American Legion Veteran Spotlight
by Guy Thompson
Charles C. Hostetler III
Branch: U.S. Navy
Rank: E-6 (E-5 active duty, E-6 Naval Reserves)
Rating: Parachute Rigger (Aircrew Survival Equipment man)
Dates of service: December 1971-December 1979 active duty.
June 1980-December 1981 Naval Reserves.
Places served: Chicago, Ill. – Great Lakes Naval Training Center
Lakehurst, N.J. – Parachute Rigger “A” School
Barbers Point, Hawaii – VP-17 P-3 Orion Patrol Squadron
Philippines – VC-5 Det Cubi Point, Subic Bay Naval Station
Whidbey Island, WA – Whidbey Island Naval Air Station AIMD
Memories: Part of my “A” school training was learning how to properly pack emergency parachutes used in various types of Naval aircraft. To test our skills we were given the opportunity to jump out of an aircraft to “test” a parachute we had personally packed. Since emergency parachutes don’t have static lines we were instructed to jump out and “count to three,” then pull the rip cord. When I jumped out I was so scared I forgot to count! As soon as I came to my senses I pulled the rip cord. I was upside down when the parachute came out between my legs and when it opened I got whiplashed around. After seeing the nice full canopy, I settled down and got to enjoy a wonderful view and the quiet solitude that only a parachute jump can give you! This was to be my one and only parachute jump to date.
As a parachute rigger in Naval Aviation I spent eight years at different duty stations. It just so happened that none of that time was spent on a ship. My sea duty consisted of overseas land-based squadrons. As I look back I wished I had spent some time on a ship and gotten my sea legs.
My first duty station was VP-17 based at Barbers Point, Hawaii. I spent a lot of time at the beaches swimming and body surfing. I still remember the time I went out to the USS Arizona memorial. It is a very solemn reminder of the men that lost their lives on December 7, 1941.
My next duty station was with VC-5 Det. Cubi Point in the Philippines. I enjoyed the three years I was stationed in the Philippines. The town outside the Subic Bay Naval Base had a lot of people just looking to try to separate a young sailor from his money. They were quite good at this and were taking advantage of the guys from the ships that pulled liberty at Subic Bay. Those of us who were stationed there quickly learned how to avoid them. Upon seeing the locals (for some strange reason we called them “Joes”) approaching us we would call out “STATIONED” and they would quickly move on to easier pickings, knowing we wouldn’t fall for their tricks.
The Filipino people who lived in the countryside were the opposite. They were very giving and I got thanked numerous times for something my fellow older WW2 service members did years before me. The older Filipinos never forgot that it was the Americans who drove out the Japanese during WW2. Many opened their homes and hearts to me during my three years there.
I re-enlisted during my tour in the Philippines. When my tour was up I was sent to the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State for four years. During my time there, my family (I was now married with two children) and the families of the sailors I worked with would go camping on the weekends. We would go up in the Cascade Mountains, following the logging roads in the national forest and camp. It was cheap and a lot of fun.
After my active duty I joined the Naval Reserves and attended college at Skagit Valley Community College in Mount Vernon, Wash., where I got an ATA in electronics. I returned to Middlebury and worked as an electronics technician, electrician, and machine maintenance technician. I’m presently employed at Atlas Die LLC as an electro-mechanical technician. I travel to six different plants for various machine and facility repairs.
My wife of 17 years is Patricia Berry. My daughter is Mary Jane Woods and she has given me two grandchildren. My son Glenn passed away in May 2004. My wife and I enjoy camping, hiking, biking and motorcycle riding.
I’m a past commander of Middlebury American Legion Post 210. I’m also a charter member of and was the first director of Post 210’s American Legion Riders. I’m presently the scholarship chairman and executive committee member of Middlebury American Legion Post 210.