Charles Martin Biography

About your Webmaster, Charles E. Martin-

In 1943 I like millions of 18 and 19 year old’s were drafted into military service. We were a generation that grew up when: women were permitted to vote, radio’s could be found in every home, movies now had sound, a guy named Lindbergh and a gal named Earhart flew solo over the ocean, Mickey Mouse was born, Ford and Chevy cars, Refrigerators replaced the ice box, Babe Ruth, Polio Cure, TV, Stock market crash, The Great Depression, Pearl Harbor and World War ll.

I lived in Forest Hills, a suburb of New York City, New York, which was a great place to have been brought up. For 25 cents we took the train to Manhattan to go to: Museums, Theater, Opera or see Frank Sinatra at the Paramount. From an early age, I dabbled in making things that held my interest. So I wound up in a Vocational High school. The school day was divided into academic and shop. I chose to go into the electronic class. With the aide of some of the best teachers, I excelled. By my junior year, I worked repairing radios in a local shop.

The dreaded day came in June 1943 when I was ordered to report to Camp Upton, Long Island, NY, This was the same place that my father had reported to in September 1917. I was discharged from the Army in January 1946 from, Camp Dix, NJ. I headed home to the place I haven’t been since December 1943. Mom and Dad were thankful for my safe return, as well as the family. Adjusting to civilian life didn’t come easy as one would expect at first. I soon met a young lady, Jo, (Josephine) at a friend’s party and we started dating. This girl became my wife on  September 7, 1947. Jo worked for a music company and I knew they were looking for a man to repair their electronic equipment. I applied and got the job. Not satisfied since it was like what I did in high school days, I went job shopping. Soon I got a job with Sylvania Electric, in research and development. After ten years with Sylvania they were moving to California. They made an offer to move me, but I declined. Job hunting at the time was scarce, but got an interview with Grumman Aircraft (later Aerospace). I worked for them 33 years. One of the most rewarding projects I worked on for 5 years, was the Lunar  Module (LEM), 6 of which landed 12 astronauts on the moon. I was privileged  along with my fellow workers to have our autographs remain on the moon. Other projects I worked on included their famous aircraft, the F-14 Tom Cat.

With the passing of years Jo and I bought a home in Melville, Long  Island, NY and had three children: Jeffrey, Patricia and Kathleen. Jo went back to work, the kids graduated college and were married. I joined and was a member of the Melville Volunteer Fire Department, since moving to the area. I become Fire Chief and then was elected to Fire Commissioner. I resigned from the Fire Department in August 2003 after 52 years of service.

Around the late 90’s my son gave my wife and I a computer. I knew about all the wonderful things this machine could do. I wondered if there was any web sites on my Army outfit the, 544th ENGINEER BOAT and shore regiment. My big problem was that I had, Macular Degeneration, in both eyes. With the aid of a magnifier I began to search the web. After fumbling my way through the net I hit pay dirt. A found a site hosted by Ray Kirkhoff,  for the, 544th REGIMENTAL HEADQUARTERS. I contacted Ray and told him about the pictures of my company and he included a link in his web site. As time passed the site grew by adding, THE BOAT & SHORE COMPANIES. Some time around 2004 I went in to look at RAY’s web site, and it was gone. RAY passed away and we lost the site.

The many requests that I have received through the years from: family, fathers, sons, daughters and now grandchildren all want to share in the life of their loved ones while in the Army in World War ll. “What kind of an outfit was the 544th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment? What was his job? Did you know him?” The story I heard was always the same. When they were discharged from the service, they put their uniform in the closet, their medals in a box in a draw or up in the attic, went on with their life and left the war behind them. No one knows where this code of silence came from, but was adapted by all the discharged military throughout the country. What a terrible mistake this was. The sacrifices not only those in the service, but the families should be never forgotten.

The regiment was organized to do a special job and at times was asked to do the impossible, but did it! This web site was created to show by pictures and words, some of the activity of the 544th from Camp Edwards, 1943 to Japan, 1946. I have made several attempts to start a web site, but it’s been one step forward and two back. My son Jeff a computer type but not a Web designer, wanted to see what it would take to design a web site. After some time of trial and error, came up with some good results. Thanks to those who have supported my efforts, especially my son Jeff. With Jeff’s persistence the site was completed and published to the Internet.

WEB MASTER- Charles E. Martin 


Thank you for pictures and information for this site from: Camp Gordon Johnson, US Army Archives the US National Archives, Ray Kirkhoff and from Charles Martin.

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