The Determined Warrior

December 13, 2009
By Spencer Maxwell BRONZE, Westfield, Indiana
Spencer Maxwell BRONZE, Westfield, Indiana
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

My great-grandfather, Charles R., is an incredibly intriguing character. He was born in Illinois on January 26, 1926 to a family of 5 children. Charles was a slight, blonde-haired (now grey from his age), green-eyed man whose life has faced many twists and turns. Charles fought in World War II, faced an alcoholic addiction during his middle ages, and now has declining health from his smoking addiction; nevertheless, through all these labors and hardships, he has been able to pull through accomplishing tasks like owning a gas station and raising 5 children. His bravery, determination, and strength in the hardest of times show why Charles A. Respecke is a hero.

Before Charles was even ten years of age, Charles’ mom passed away. His father remarried. Unfortunately for Charles, “His father was an alcoholic and abused his wife,” tells Charles’ granddaughter Kerri. The times were also difficult. Charles grew up in the Depression. People could not feed their families, and the economy was in a severe downfall. “He used to talk about how excited he became when he was given an onion. He would go outside and eat it on the porch,” tells Kerri. The way of life greatly influenced Charles. It hardened him so, during hard times, what kept him going was that he knew he was expected to get through it, a trait that is exceptionally commendable. This is like Odysseus, how he was hardened and never gave up on his journey though he was facing hard times. On a better note, his step-mom was an extremely kind-hearted person and would help Charles through some of his early struggles in his childhood through teenage years.

In 1944, Charles, ready to get involved in the world’s struggles, joined the United States Navy. In the Navy he was stationed on a Minesweeper. “His job was to stand out on the front of the ship and collect the mines that they found,” tells Kerri. The task clearly shows his bravery. Odysseus bravely fought beasts and suitors while Charles would valiantly collect the tools of death. During his career in the Navy, Charles felt a feeling of homesickness and not just for his step-mom and dad. Before he had enrolled in the Navy, Charles met a woman named Alice back in Indiana, so, after the war was won, he returned home to Alice and proposed to her. Together they had 5 children and one unfortunate stillborn baby.

During the middle part of his life, Charles faced a couple speed bumps. In 1964, Charles, Alice, and their 5 children moved to Santa Barbara in their Station Wagon. There Charles owned a small gas station/service station; however, during these years he gained an addiction to alcohol. He would later decide he was done with his alcoholism, and he joined Alcoholics Anonymous or AA for short. “One of his assignment in AA was to write a letter to each one of the people that he knew that in some way he had hurt through his alcoholism,” stated Kerri. The whole obstacle and his way of overcoming it show people of what a determined person he is and how he won’t give up. Odysseus, in the same way, sought after a goal and never stopped until he accomplished it. However, his smoking habits remained. Nowadays, he faces declining health because of them and had to at one point get surgery on his carotid arteries. He is now retired, and lives in Santa Maria with his wife Alice.
Charles R. is undoubtedly a hero. He is a hardened man who lived through the Great Depression and a less-than-perfect childhood. Charles was a brave soldier who would retrieve the mines meant to destroy US ships. Lastly, he was a determined fighter who would never give-in to his alcoholism and fought it away. All these traits make up the heroic man named Charles R., and all these traits are those that any person from any type of life and in any part of the world would want to have. As Kerri says, “It seems that whatever the world throws at him he always will pull through, and he will never give up.”

The author's comments:
This piece is about Charles R., a retired WWII vet.

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