Charles grew up in Winnsboro, SC. Although he was drafted into the U.S. Army, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, his desired branch. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, he completed more training at Camp LeJeune, then to Okinawa, Japan, Camp Pendleton San Diego and finally to Danang and Quang Tri, Vietnam. The year was 1968. For 13 months, Charles endured patrols, firefights, witnessed the horrors of war, lost battle buddies and made friends for life. On one night, he saved the life of a battle buddy who was shot and Charles went back into line of fire to bring him out. As a result of all the wounds, he still suffers knee, leg and back problems. The emotional scars never diminished.
After returning from Vietnam, Charles worked for a raincoat company in Baltimore, MD and then with the U.S. Postal Service for 20 years. He never shook the impact of PTSD including severe depression, lack of sleep, nightmares and constant bad memories. Arthritis and pain added to his difficulty climbing stairs. The impact of his physical and mental condition caused his retirement in 2004.
Charles attended a welcome home Vietnam Vets celebration at Parris Island where he met battle buddies who recognized him after all these decades. It was an emotional reunion of laughter, tears, storytelling and Charles will continue to meet these lifelong pals for years to come. His mother passed away in 2002 and Charles looked through her boxes of memorabilia and found a roll of film that had never been developed since the 1960’s. Not knowing content of the film, he was shocked to see the face of the battle buddy he saved that fateful night in Vietnam. At a later reunion, Charles was introduced to PURPLE HEART HOMES WHO IS PROUD TO PARTNER WITH HOME DEPOT TO RENOVATE CHARLES HOME FOR EASIER ROOM ACCESS.
When asked about the impact of his experiences, Charles replied, I’d do it all over again. Why? I love the U.S. Marine Corps and I love this country. Welcome home, Charles Harris; Thank You for your service.