Chuck Chandler

Charles & Joan Chandler

 Born on 23 July 1938 in Louisiana, Chuck was assassinated in Sao Paulo, Brazil 12 October 1968. Chuck was an Olmstead Scholar.


Cullum No. 23823-1962 | October 12, 1968 | Died in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Interred in West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

“You have made him little less than the angels and crowned him with glory and honor.” Psalms 8:6. Our time together was so brief, but it burned its image forever into my mind and into my heart. Although 30 years has passed since Chuck was crudely, senselessly plucked from our lives, the love and pain continue to be a part of me.

Charles Rodney Chandler entered this life in the fold of a simple family in rural Louisiana. Sharing farm chores with his sister Llabetta and younger brother Connie and helping to care for a terminally ill second brother, Chuck worked hard in the fields and also reached superior achievements in school. In addition to studies, he played football, sang in a quartet, tutored classmates and was active within his church. A second sister, Kathy, was born during his high school years. His scholastic abilities were recognized and his childhood dream of attending USMA was nurtured by all in the small town of Arcadia, LA. Following high school, Chuck spent two years at Louisiana Tech, continuing his outstanding grades. Gaining a congressional appointment, Chuck entered USMA in the summer of 1958.

Well respected for academic excellence, Chuck participated in SCUSA, the Debate Council and Forum, the Mathematics Forum, the Portuguese Club, and other extracurricular activities. Active in athletics, he was on the track team, and in the sailing and parachute clubs. He thrived on the constant challenges of USMA and service to the Corps, wearing stars for academic excellence all four years.

His country and classmates were first in his life. In spite of all this disciplined responsibility, he was always the most attentive suitor, maintaining a sense of humor and openness in our relationship and interaction with classmates. One of his company mates affectionately recalled his years in E1 with Chuck and wrote: “There was something about those Louisiana people, a certain savoir and cosmopolitan air about them, a certain roguish charm about them. Chuck Chandler carried the flavor of all that in him. An undergraduate, Chuck already had a unique and engaging sort of charm about him. And yet, he was a composed and contented young man who addressed his studies and duties with concentration and purpose and no need for pretense and ostentatious parade. It was Chuck’s serene maturity for which he wore stars at graduation, and would have worn them at retirement as well.”

Sharing the West Point years with Chuck was a privilege for me. Being a part of the “Long Gray Line” was, and is today, an honor to be cherished. After graduation, our lives led down exciting paths—some well trod and others very new. Chuck lovingly gave his name to our oldest son, Darryl Charles, born in 1959. Setting off as a family, our first tour was Artillery School at Ft. Sill, followed by Airborne/Ranger at Forts Benning and Bragg, becoming a part of the 82d. This time was spent in the whirlwind of usual (and some very unusual) social events along with intense training. Sent off to the Mekong Delta as an advisor in the fall of 1964, just four months after the birth of our second son, Jeffrey Charles, and advised of the coming of yet another child in seven months, Chuck managed to remain devoted to his career and was honored with the Bronze Star, Air Medal, the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Upon his return with the addition of a third son, Todd Charles, he was at last able to take advantage of being honored with an Olmstead Scholarship and chose to attend the Graduate University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. After a language brushing up in Washington, DC, we all moved to Brazil and settled into a suburb of Sao Paulo. While there, we met government and military dignitaries and attended elegant banquets and ceremonies. We traveled extensively, staying in homes with dirt floors and very gracious hosts. We were treated like “celebrities” and made so welcome by these simple and loving people. There was a constant flow of fellow students from the university through our home. Chuck busied himself with political science studies of this vibrant, vital nation and loved every minute of his work and warm people. He freely spoke about the U.S. and answered many queries about our policies and reasons for them, apparently threatening a certain faction that decided to quiet this American as an “example.” What a tragic loss for a country so much in need of guidance. They put an end to a promising advocate with the intelligence to perhaps make a positive contribution to their lives. Our daughter, Luann Palica, was only five months old, born in Brazil, when his life was taken so violently in front of our home.

Charles Rodney Chandler’s family remains a wonderfully loving tribute to his memory. He is always present within the lives of his four children and six grandchildren. I am easily able to see parts of him in their eyes and their smiles, and feel him in their love.

At first, the whole world sympathetic, A senseless death, a loss pathetic. Nestled there, adorned by splendor, With traditional words, ceremony of thunder. Tears glisten upon many faces, All the soldiers in their places, In rows so solemn now they lie. The air is still but for the sighs of those remaining here to weep, ruing promises they failed to keep. Behind the casket she chose to follow, the winding path steep and narrow, from Chapel to the gates swung wide. Accepting at the end of this last ride, a son of glory returning to her breast, to be enfolded like the rest. Numbed and frightened of days ahead. The children to raise, the empty bed. With folded flag held tightly to her, the widow prays to receive the power from it which he easily gained. Duty’s call as ever remained. Honor for him was a way of life. Our Country always his First Wife.

IN SAO PAULO A bright October morning, In Sao Paulo it is Spring. A loving kiss, A gentle nudge, A smile within a private moment between us, love. One warm embrace to last the day (forever). I tagged along behind, tracing his footsteps with my own. To the car (death chamber), Hurrying to the door to wave him off, my hand raised for that farewell (final). The cupped hand, a futile warning scream. His eyes questioning my alarm, the fatal steel piercing were the last seconds of that October morning.

In Sao Paulo (it is death). Oh, my Love, my Heart, don’t leave me! I rush to comfort. Hold. Stroke. Only one muffled sound (last breath). It gave me hope. He looks at me (sightless eyes). Hold tight! My life will hold you here! Help will come (too late). My eyes deny the blood, Pieces of flesh and hair. Not his (his). Help! Help! Help us!

On this dark October morning, In Sao Paulo (it is done). Gentle firm hands pry us apart. (One more kiss), His cheek still warm. Eyes of unbelieving friends, wide with shock, pity, shame, anger. The tears flow. Army wives don’t cry (widows do). Don’t look out the window. Don’t see the roughness of the box. Wake up yesterday, On that bright October morning. In Sao Paulo (It is Spring).

With love and memories forever in my heart.

Your wife, Joan Chandler

One Trackback

  1. […] than a week later I was deployed on a temporary mission and rooming with our classmate, Chuck Chandler. Another West Pointer, Ned Loscuito, Class of 1960, was also assigned to this small outpost. Ned […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s