Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Obituary, Charles C. McAmis - Plan like you live forever, live like you will die tomorrow

Today's obituary from the Kansas City Star was obviously written with a lot of love and care by his children and grandchildren.  I love the tag line:  "Another of the Greatest Generation returns to Home Port."  Godspeed, Charles!

Charles C. McAmis
Another of the Greatest Generation returns to Home Port
Charles C. McAmis, age 92, died February 17, 2012, of hear failure.
He was born September 4 in Cushing, Okla., to parents Jessie Oscar Alnzo and Josephine Prisella (Tisdale) McAmis.
He grew up during the Great Depression.  When he was 10 years old, he "rode" the rails with his dad looking for work.  Moving from town to town over three years he was placed in the third grade three times.  Finally in the next town he convinced them he should be in the sixth grade.  They were run out of town a couple of times because his Dad made bootleg beer.  One time his sister, Opal and he had to quickly dump the beer down the drain when the house was raided.
They finally settled in Hotchkiss, Colorado.  While in high school he herded sheep in the high country wearing only jeans, an unlined jean jacket and regular shoes.
He graded from Hotchkiss High School in June of 1939.  He enlisted in the US Navy in January 1940.  He said he joined because he was seeing a married woman and the husband found out and said he would shoot dad the next time he saw him.  Since he was the county pistol champ, dad knew he wouldn't miss and got out of town.
After boot camp at San Diego, he was stationed in Hawaii.  He was then ordered to the light cruiser USS Boise CL47.  The Boise was in the Phillippines and part of the Asiatic Fleet when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  They spent the next several weeks escorting civilian ships past the Japanese blockade.  During one mission, the Boise hit an uncharted coral reef, causing extensive damage that required a return to the States for repairs.
One of his sisters, Jewel, had moved to Liberal, Kan., so he went there on leave and met and married the love of his life, Mary Francis Brier of Liberal on June 4, 1942.  He boarded a train to return to his ship immediately after the wedding.  Upon his return to the ship it got underway for Guadalcanal.
The Japanese had decimated two other task forces that tried to stop the Tokyo Express that resupplied the Japanese and shelled the Marines at Henderson Field.  On October 11, near midnight, the task force consisting of several destroyers, light and heavy cruisers intercepted the Japanese task force.  With the use of the newly developed radar they were able to cross the "T" and for the first time in the war delivered a serious blow to the Japanese Navy.  They stopped the Tokyo Express that night for the first time.  It was known as the Battle of Cape Esperance.  However, the Boise was seriously damaged in the exchange with the loss of 107 men.  During his time in the Pacific, he was credited with downing two Japanese planes while manning a 20mm gun was was wounded twice.
After the Boise returned to the Phillippines ship yard for repair, dad was assigned to a destroyer escort that part of hunter, killer submarine task force in the Atlantic.  As the end of WWII came to an end and he was stationed on an aircraft repair ship on Okinawa awaiting the invasion of Japan.  By this time he had been promoted to Chief Warrant Officer WO4 Bos'n.  He was offered a commission but by 1947, he decided to leave the Navy he loved due to family obligations.  Returning to Liberal he, like most of the WWII generation, put the war behind them and got on with their lives.  He went to work for Panhandle Eastern Pipelines at the lowest entry level, that as an oiler on the huge compression that sent natural gas to other parts of the country.  Chuck eventually worked his way up to plant manager of two different plants despite having only a high school education.
He retired in the late 1980's after over 30 years of service to Panhandle Eastern Pipelines.  After retirement he moved to Brazoria, Texas, and lived near the water he had loved as a sailor.  Age took its toll as it does for everyone.  He eventually moved back to Liberal to be near his youngest son, Tom, and live out the rest of his life.
Chuck was preceded in death by his parents and his siblings, Opal, Jewel, Edward and Howard; his first wife, Mary, and his second wife, Audrey.
He is survived by two sons, Ronald and Thomas and grandson, Conor, of his first wife, and two step daughters, Karen and Vicki from his second marriage and two step grandchildren, Bobbie and Aron.
At his specific request, there is no service or memorial.  He said he just wanted us to have a party and talk about the good times and give him a toast with Crown Royal.  His favorite saying was, "What the hell, I'm going to be sick in the morning anyway so give me another drink."  Plan like you live forever, live like you will die tomorrow.
Cremation and funeral arrangements by Miller Funeral Home of Liberal, Kan.

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