‘Home Sweet Kalkaska’: One of the Lucky Ones: Chuck Forbush

By: 
Elizabeth Dunham

Courtesy photo

Chuck Forbush's service in the U.S. Navy brought him to the Pacific during World War II, including the invasion of Okinawa.

 

Photo by Elizabeth Dunham

Chuck Forbush proudly wears his World War II Veteran hat everywhere he goes. He said sometimes people don't believe he is old enough to have served in that war; Chuck was only 17 when he enlisted.

 

Editor’s Note: Home Sweet Kalkaska will be a recurring feature profile highlighting the unique individuals and stories that “create the mosaic of Kalkaska culture.”

KALKASKA – Charles (Chuck) Forbush is the kind of man who always keeps important photos nearby. He has pictures of his granddaughter, his military buddies, and a “sun dog” in the glove box of his truck, easy to take out and share.

“That’s a sunrise,” Chuck said, pointing to a picture of what looked like two suns coming over the horizon. “I talked to a guy and he said they call it a sun dog. ‘That’s rare,’ he said, ‘you should hang on to that.’ And I said I’m going to. That’s one sun. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it?”

Chuck is also the kind of guy who looks back on his 92 years of life and considers himself lucky.

“I was looking for something in here, what was I looking for …?” he mumbled while shuffling through the stack of photos. “There’s a picture of me right there,” he said, holding up a photo of a young man in a navy uniform.

“Wow. How old were you?” I asked.

“Uh, well I went in the military when I was 17, and that’s when I was 18 and a half or 19,” he answered.

Chuck found another military photo.

“That’s another navy shot. This shot was taken in boot camp, I think. I’m not sure. A lot of nice pictures here,” the veteran replied as he flipped through the stack. He came across one of him standing next to an airplane.

“See, I got a pilot’s license. Naturally, I don’t fly anymore,” he chuckled. “That’s a picture of me standing next to the plane I learned in. Oh, I loved flying! Yeah, gee. I spent a lot of time at the airport,” he said laughingly.

“Was that during your service?” I inquired.

“No, that was after.”

“How long were you in?”

“Oh, two years. In 1944, that’s when Europe was winding down. Well, they had their eyes on Japan and they were looking for recruits so I didn’t have no trouble. I signed up when I was 17 and the recruiter said ‘okay, buddy, you know what you’re in for, don’t you?’ I said no, not really. And he said ‘don’t ask.’ Cuz we were heading to Okinawa.”

“Did you go?”

“Yeah, oh yeah. That was in 1944, and in 1945 was the invasion of Okinawa, Easter Sunday, April 1st. We had a bunch of guys get killed. Yeah, Japanese suicide bombers, they - they- they hurt a lot of people. Hell, I was one of the lucky ones. Twenty-two guys weren’t so lucky. You know?”

“I can’t imagine.”

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