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Sgt. Maj. Charles Chamberlain, enlisted in the Marine Corps Sept. 13, 1962. Once he completed recruit training, he was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.In January 1964, he reported for duty with 1st Bn., 4th Marines. It was with this unit that he participated in the initial landing at Chu Lai, Vietnam, May 7, 1965. Upon his return home in 1966, he was assigned as a marksmanship instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. He was then transferred to Marine Barracks Subic Bay, Philippines.Chamberlain returned to Vietnam in March 1969 with 2nd Bn., 9th Marines, as a platoon commander. In March 1970, he received orders to Quantico, Va., where he served as a physical fitness instructor at the Officer Candidate School. From there, Chamberlain saw duty as a recruiter in both Maine and New York, and served at the First Sergeants School at Parris Island; with 3rd Tank Bn. in Twentynine Palms; and at the Combat Center’s MCCES school house. In May 1984, Chamberlain reported as the sergeant major for Headquarters Squadron 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, in Okinawa, Japan. He then returned to 3rd Tank Bn. in May 1985. In 1988, Chamberlain reported for duty as the director for the first Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif. In June 1989, he assumed duties as the sergeant major for 7th Marines, and assisted with the unit’s relocation to Twentynine Palms in 1990. Chamberlain took his post as the Combat Center Sergeant Major in June 1990, and deployed to Southwest Asia with the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. He retired from active duty service Oct. 1, 1992, and accepted positions as a store detective for the Combat Center’s Exchange and as a sports coordinator at the installation’s Sports Activities Center.

Photo by courtesy photo

Remembering a Marine

23 Oct 2012 | Sgt. Heather Golden

He was a recruiter and marksmanship instructor. He set physical fitness records, and helped redesign the Corps’ obstacle and confidence courses.

He led Marines just starting their careers at the Combat Center’s Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. He led others into combat in Vietnam and during the liberation of Kuwait.

He advised generals for decades and helped develop doctrine that still influences today’s Corps.

For most in Twentynine Palms, he was not Sgt. Maj. Chamberlain, or even Charles. He was Chuck.

He preferred to spend his time bicycling, lifting weights and jogging. He ran 10Ks with friends and collected Invicta watches.

He tuned into Z107.7 every morning, and met up with friends at the town’s Jelly Donut for coffee and conversation. He loved sports cars and watching TV.

He was known for volunteering. He loved talking about the time he met Bob Hope while working with Toys for Tots.

Toward the end of his life, combat-related illnesses took their toll, and he spent most of his time at home with his wife of 41 years, Lorraine. He passed away Sept. 9, at the age of 68.

He was referred to as a “community hero.”

At his request, his ashes will be interred in Auburn, Maine, at a later date.

Chamberlain enlisted in the Marine Corps Sept. 13, 1962. Once he completed recruit training, he was assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

In January 1964, he reported for duty with 1st Bn., 4th Marines. It was with this unit that he participated in the initial landing at Chu Lai, Vietnam, May 7, 1965.

Upon his return home in 1966, he was assigned as a marksmanship instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. He was then transferred to Marine Barracks Subic Bay, Philippines.

Chamberlain returned to Vietnam in March 1969 with 2nd Bn., 9th Marines, as a platoon commander.

In March 1970, he received orders to Quantico, Va., where he served as a physical fitness instructor at the Officer Candidate School.

From there, Chamberlain saw duty as a recruiter in both Maine and New York, and served at the First Sergeants School at Parris Island; with 3rd Tank Bn. in Twentynine Palms; and at the Combat Center’s MCCES school house.

In May 1984, Chamberlain reported as the sergeant major for Headquarters Squadron 17, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, in Okinawa, Japan.

He then returned to 3rd Tank Bn. in May 1985.

In 1988, Chamberlain reported for duty as the director for the first Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif.

In June 1989, he assumed duties as the sergeant major for 7th Marines, and assisted with the unit’s relocation to Twentynine Palms in 1990.

Chamberlain took his post as the Combat Center Sergeant Major in June 1990, and deployed to Southwest Asia with the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

He retired from active duty service Oct. 1, 1992, and accepted positions as a store detective for the Combat Center’s Exchange and as a sports coordinator at the installation’s Sports Activities Center.


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms