COLONEL (Retired) CHARLIE STOKES, U.S. ARMY
Colonel CHARLES EDWARD STOKES JR , 78, passed away peacefully at his home in Holden Beach, North Carolina, at about 09:25 AM, October 16, 2016. Charlie was born in tiny Buffalo, Putnam County, West Virginia, on the Kanawha River. His parents were Charles Edward Stokes Sr., a local grocery store owner, and Celestine Werner Stokes.
Charlie attended local schools until going to Greenbrier Military School (GMS) where he became known as “SAM”. He was knocked out (brain concussion) in a football game and woke up with temporary amnesia. He didn’t know where he was or who he was, so they started calling him “Sam” and it stuck. Sam did well in the three years he was at GMS. He was a wrestling champion from Band Company. Sam worked his way up to become one of the 16 Cadet Officers in the school and Executive Officer of the Band Company in his Senior Year. Sam graduated from GMS in 1956. He returned for a year of Post Graduate work in 1957 and commanded the Band Company with the rank of Cadet Captain.
Charlie went to West Virginia State College (University now), at Institute, WV, where he graduated with a BA Degree in Mathematics (Minors in English Literature and ROTC) and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army through the Reserve Officer Training Program (ROTC). Little did anyone know then that Colonel Charles E. Stokes Jr. would be one of West Virginia State University’s most distinguished graduates and would inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1984. Colonel Stokes was even invited to present the Awards Day address, which he did.
Charlie’s education continued while in the Army. He got into the Intelligence Corps and kept improving his education. He went to numerous service schools (Ranger, Airborne, Jungle Warfare, Master Parachutist, and more). Actually they are too numerous to mention them all, but important ones included the Army Command & General Staff College, Senior Service College, The Foreign Service Institute, and he earned his double major Masters Degree from Louisiana State University in Political Science & History. He would later use his education and experience to actually teach others at several Universities and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY.
Charlie became an Intelligence Officer in the Army and was on the way to becoming a true American Hero. He started by working in the area of the most dangerous time in the history of the world, the Cuban Missile Crisis, which took place in late 1962.
Charlie continued to advance in rank and responsibility. Charlie’s Army career after the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, included hunting Che Guevara in South America, Caribbean Ops including the Dominican Republic/Haiti Conflict, Special Ops in Viet Nam where he was injured in combat, Central America and the conflict between Honduras and El Salvador, and later the Korean DMZ.
After combat assignments, Major Charlie was called to teach at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, NY. He was Principal for Latin American studies because of his double major Masters in Political Science and History, plus he spoke fluent Spanish. After West Point, Charlie was an Adjunct Professor in the History Department at his Alma Mater, West Virginia State University, Institute, WV.
Charlie was promoted to full Colonel (Officer Paygrade O-6) in mid-1983. He served as Defense Attache in the Guatemalan Embassy. In mid-1983, Charlie was assigned to be Deputy Commander, Special Warfare Center & School, Ft. Bragg, NC. His job was to oversee the curricula for all Army Special Operations Forces with emphasis on using Special Ops in the global war against terrorism.
Charlie earned many medals and awards, too numerous to mention. Foremost among then were the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. Next is the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor and bravery in combat. Charlie has also earned the Purple Heart for being wounded in combat. In 1984, Charlie was inducted into the Hall of Fame at West Virginia State University, and was inducted into the Greenbrier Military School Alumni Association Hall of Fame. His long and distinguished military career ended in early 1987 after a total of 32 years in the U.S. Army (including his three years of ROTC at Greenbrier Military School.
Charlie is survived by his wife, Rosnani (Rose) Stokes, his son, Danny Stokes of Tacoma, WA, daughter, Camela Noonan of Fayetteville, NC, and sister, Ruth Ann Riffee of Jacksonville, FL, and six Grandchildren.
Memorials may be directed to the Salvation Army: 820 N 2nd Street Wilmington, NC 28401. Private online condolences may be sent to the family at http://www.brunswickfuneralservice.com Brunswick Funeral Service, Shallotte, NC.