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From Army Veteran to Red Cross Volunteer

  • Charles "Chuck" Rose
  • Charles "Chuck" Rose
There's no greater feeling than supporting your fellow humans in their time of need.

Army Veteran – Red Cross Volunteer

The year is 1963, in Falls Church VA, and a 17-year-old man is receiving permission from his parents to enter the U.S. Army. Charles "Chuck" Rose, was a so-called "Army brat" who signed up for the Army's Airborne Infantry. Two short years later the young man with "Brad Pitt good looks" found himself in Vietnam fighting with the 1st Cavalry Division, beside his "brothers" in a war that many back home did not understand. He commanded Headquarters Command at Ft. Sam Houston, in San Antonio, where he retired and he now serves on the Board of Directors for the San Antonio Area Chapter of the American Red Cross.

At an age when most young men are trying to find themselves, Rose was the radio operator for his recon platoon, receiving the first of his four purple hearts earned in two tours in Vietnam. "We were all kids, we were all scared, but we trained together for almost two years before we deployed. When you're out there, you're representing your country but you're fighting for your brothers."

During his time in the Army, Rose earned one Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Stars, one with ‘V', for valor, and other awards. Yet of all these, the ones he is most proud of are the four Purple Hearts he earned in Vietnam. Why?

"Nobody had to write-up a description as to why I earned those. I did it for my brothers," he said.

He earned those four Purple Hearts by getting shot in the hip, receiving shrapnel in the shoulder and arms, withstanding a Punji Stake to the lower leg, and tripping an explosive enemy booby trap (where he spent a year in a hospital recovering).

This 17-year-old high school dropout finished his army career as a highly decorated Lieutenant Colonel, with two Master's Degrees.

"I saw the Red Cross take care of my soldiers, by verifying their need for emergency leave and helping out financially when they needed it. The Red Cross took care of me when I was injured. They also notified my parents that I was only wounded, not dead, as was originally reported," he recalled.

During the Korean War, and for years afterwards, his mother, an Army wife, served the Red Cross as a member of the Gray Ladies. "Some of my fondest memories are of my mother bringing me along as she volunteered supporting the soldiers in military hospitals we were stationed at. When I got the opportunity to serve, I said to myself: I can support the Red Cross. This is a great organization.,"he remembered.

In the military some are assigned to positions of leadership because of their efforts in the class room. There are others who become leaders because they earn the respect of those around them when the stakes are at their highest. Old habits, like old soldiers, never die so when he became a member of the Board of Directors for the Red Cross in San Antonio, Rose put himself through his own Red Cross basic training.

He registered and completed every Disaster Response course offered by the Red Cross last year. Upon completion he volunteered to serve as a member of the D.A.T. team on top of his duties as board member. When asked "why?" Rose simply said: "I wouldn't ask any of my men to dig a fox hole or a latrine unless I was prepared to do the same. So, how can I expect to become a truly effective leader if I have never been out on the front line and experienced it?"

What started out as a way to learn the intricacies of the Red Cross, turned out to be an experience that changed his life once again.

"There's no greater feeling than supporting your fellow humans in their time of need. When we were fighting together in Vietnam, I picked up one of my buddies and carried him back to the chopper because we were taking care of our own. That's what we're doing here as part of the Red Cross. We're taking care of our own, and I'm proud to be a member of this team."

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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