Charles Willard Chamberlain, a 31-year resident of Twentynine Palms, died at home Sept. 9, 2012, at the age of 68. He died from cardiopulmonary arrest following long-term, combat-related illnesses of ALS, Parkinsonism, asthma and other complications.
The son of Charles Peterson Chamberlain and Dorothy Frances (Fish) Chamberlain of Maine, he was born Aug. 17, 1944, in Lewiston, Maine.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 30 years, attaining the rank of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center/7th MEB (base) sergeant major.
After 1992, he was a store detective at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Exchange and sports coordinator at the installation’s Sports Activities Center before retiring.
He entered the U.S. Marine Corps Sept. 13, 1962, and retired Oct. 1, 1992. He participated in the initial landing at Chu Lai in the Republic of Vietnam in 1965; he was a marksmanship instructor at Parris Island, S.C., in 1966; he worked for the Physical Training Instructor School in 1970. He served recruiting duty in Maine and New York and was the first sergeant, then Schools Battalion sergeant major, of the Communications-Electronics School at MCAGCC. He did overseas tours in Philippines, Okinawa and other areas. He was director of Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at El Toro in 1988; sergeant major of the 7th Marine Regiment at Camp Pendleton in 1989; the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB)/Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center from 1990 to 1992; sergeant major of First Marine Division during deployment in the Persian Gulf War in 1990 to 1991. He received the nomination to become sergeant major of the Marine Corps and retired as MCAGCC (base) sergeant major in October 1992.
His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star with Combat “V” and Gold Star, the Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star, the Navy Achievement Medal with Gold Star, Combat Action Ribbon with Gold Star, Parachute Badge, various Republic of Vietnam and Southwest Asia medals and numerous other medals, citations, letters and certificates. He attended multiple military schools and completed multiple military courses.
He was a life member of First Marine Division Association, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Non-Commissioned Officers Association and American Veterans. He was also a member of the Marine Corps Association, the Fleet Reserve Association and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
He volunteered with the Wish Upon a Star Foundation in Morongo Basin area and helped fundraising for NCOA in Twentynine Palms.
Charles, or “Chuck,” was deeply interested in physical fitness: daily jogging, bicycling and weight-lifting. Every morning since 1981, he listened to the Z107.7 radio station and visited the Twentynine Palms Jelly Donut with friends. After retirement, he helped many senior neighbors and attended various military activities. He loved TV, especially when his combat-related illnesses severely overcame his neurological functions.
He was preceded in death by his daughter, Catherine W. Chamberlain, who died at birth in 1973; his father, Charles Chamberlain; his mother, Dorothy Chamberlain; and his brothers Brian Chamberlain, Robin Chamberlain and Dana Chamberlain, all from Maine.
He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Lorraine (Badger) Chamberlain of Twentynine Palms; his brothers and sisters-in-law, Virgil and Noreen Chamberlain of Leeds, Maine, and Kelsie and Barbara Chamberlain of New Auburn, Maine; his sisters and brothers-in-law, Cheryl and Dennis Bachelder of Pembrook, Maine, Mylinda and Arthur Frechette of Sabattus, Maine, and Marilou and Gary Stalsworth of Beaverton, Ore.; and his uncle, Kelsie Fish of Millinocket, Maine.
He also is survived by father-in-law and mother-in-law (godparents) Joseph and Alice Marciniak of Chicopee, Mass., brother-in-law and wife Raymond and Jane Badger of Holyoke, Mass., sister-in-law Linda Colon of Palmer, Mass., brother-in-law and wife Edward and Debra Badger of Springfield, Mass., brother-in-law and wife Ronald and Deborah Badger of Chicopee, Mass., and brother-in-law Kenneth Badger of Chicopee, Mass., plus aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews.
There will be no viewing, per Charles’ request.
The date of the service is pending. Full military honors are being arranged. The location will be the Parade Deck of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms. Family, friends and the public are invited. At a later date, a celebration of life will be held with Lorraine’s family in Massachusetts and with Charles’ family in Maine.
At Charles’ request, his cremated remains will be interred in Auburn, Maine, on a date still to be determined.
Donations to Navy Marine Corps Relief Society at Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, and to the Visiting Nurses Association in Yucca Valley would be appreciated.
Many knew Charles as an excellent source of military information, a strong volunteer in our civilian and military community and a personable leader. He met comedian-actor Bob Hope to assist with Toys for Tots. He loved helping our senior neighbors and helped NCOA fund-raising events for Twentynine Palms. He ran many 10K events with friends, loved sports cars and collected Invicta watches. He carries a legacy for all Marines and is a legend for all-American. A community hero.
He faced the challenges of his combat-related illnesses daily without complaint with his loving wife and caregiver, Lorraine. He remained at home until his demise. Chuck is sadly missed. Semper Fidelis!