Charles Garrett remembers Navy service


Editor’s Note: In honor of Veterans Day next Tuesday, Nov. 11, we at The Courier decided to run this profile of a local World War II veteran written by Countryside Village administrator Serina Durrah. To see local businesses’ support of our nation’s veterans, turn to pages 6A and 7A.



As I walked into Mr. Charles Garrett’s room for the first time, I observed a Navy blanket on the bed, a picture of a handsome young man in a Navy uniform, a Navy hat, a picture of a young Navy man and his young wife, as well as a picture of a smiling older couple. I sat down with Mr. Garrett and asked him if I could talk with him about his recent Honor Flight and his service to our country.

Mr. Garrett is a Navy veteran who recently went on the Honor Flight to visit the Veterans memorials in Washington, D.C. He had been to Washington, D.C., once before, but it was long before the memorials were built. He had always wanted to return to see the memorials, but his wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimers and was afraid to fly. He knew she would be out of place and kept putting it off until his daughter signed him up this year. Mr. Garrett’s son-in-law accompanied him, along with four doctors (one of who happened to be Mr. Garrett’s family doctor) and approximately 100 veterans, each with a companion of their own.

Mr. Garrett chose to join the Navy because he didn’t want to be a foot soldier. He had been wanting to join the Navy but didn’t have a spot, and one day the recruiter called him and said there were two men rejected and asked if Mr. Garrett still wanted to join the Navy.

Of course, the answer was yes.

Then the recruiter said, “there’s just one catch — you have to leave tomorrow.”

Now, at the time, Mr. Garrett was dating his sweetheart, Louise. He wanted to marry her before going to boot camp, but there just wasn’t time, so he promised her that they would “tie the knot” when he came home on boot leave after boot camp.

He kept his promise, and they were married when he came home before he shipped out.

Mr. Garrett joined the Navy at the age of 19 in 1943 and was in the Navy for three years. His job was to maintain and repair aircraft. He said he always had plenty to do and enjoyed working on the flight deck in good weather; the quarters were comfortable and the food was good.

Part of his three years in service was spent in the Pacific on the U.S.S. Hollandia. He remembers being a part of the battle in Okinawa.

They had anchored off the coast of Okinawa and sent fighters to support the advancing troops. He said he remembers the Kamakazis coming out in droves and sinking carriers and anything else they could get to. He said the morale of the men was very high. They were angry about the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and they all knew why they were there. Mr. Garrett said he had no regrets about joining the Navy and would do it all again if he needed to.

Currently, Mr. Garrett is a resident at Countryside Village, along with Louise, his wife of 70 years, and says the key to a good lasting marriage is to have mutual understanding and always discuss anything major.

Mr. Garret has two daughters, the first of who was born while he was in service, and he is thankful for the Red Cross being able to notify him of her birth while he was stationed at Pearl Harbor.

Despite his age, Mr. Garret exudes pride and fondness of his military service. It was an honor to speak with him.