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Ode to a Club Member
by Clint Perkins
Charles (Chuck) S Perkins 1948 – 2016
It is with great difficulty I now pen the following to share with others.
It seems like just yesterday we were buddy-boxing and enjoying RC flying however it has been almost 9 months since his passing from advanced Alzheimer Disease.
Chuck was born in Ithaca, New York and relocated to Long Beach, California in 1952. In the late 50's, he flew the U-control airplanes that I built, because I could not go in circles.
At age 17, he enlisted in the Navy and spent most of his active duty at North Island, San Diego and Los Alamitos training in welding and hydraulics. His last 9 months of active duty were aboard the USS Hornet (CVS41 I believe) off the coast of Vietnam. His primary assignment was hydraulics specialist on the Grumman C1A COD (carrier on deck) aircraft which flew the mail for the fleet and various repair parts in support of the numerous jets and helicopters. It was somewhat comforting to be part of the flight crew of the Admiral's plane ('00' double meat ball) knowing that it would be the first off the deck in times of great threat. He spoke of the scrambles with the quick ride up the elevator lift, the unfolding of the wings and final hydraulics readings as it approached the catapult. I can only imagine the feeling and sound of those two Wright Radial 9 cylinder engines at “full song” just as the catapult kicks you in the tail and puts you on your way for the next mission. His recollections of landings in less than calm seas would make you shake your head in total disbelief. I truly believe he enjoyed much of his time on active duty however as the Tet Offensive ramped up and the body bag count increased exponentially he became numb to the reality of war. In 1969, reality set in a week after he came home following his discharged from active duty when our father suffered a massive heart attack and died.
Chuck immediately made use of his military training in welding and within a short time started a portable welding business which kept him busy for almost 40 years. His primary focus was on heavy duty repair of large Caterpillar earth moving equipment but included everything down to small John Deere tractors.
We both retired early 2008 and were out for a short ride on our Harley's when we decided to stop in at the sign on Arrowhead Lake Road to see what RC activities were going on. The rest is history. We agreed that flying was going to be relaxing and fun, nothing more. We had both raced everything that had an engine all our lives and this would be the time to kick back and enjoy life. The flag pole was Chuck's idea and speaks to his unwavering commitment and patriotism. You could see that Chuck enjoyed just being at the field by the way he would close his eyes and get lost in his memories as the planes flew the pattern.
I want to thank all who made Chuck feel welcome and at home at the field whether it was giving up a comfortable seat or initiating entertaining conversations. The next time you are having a bad day flying, just turn south toward the flag pole and think of Chuck with a big smile. Keep it fun.