Tuesday, October 2, 2012


What causes a memory to be so ingrained in one's mind that he can come back 65 years later and remember every small detail? It could be the love that Charlie felt from the Marines, or it could be the days Charlie spent practicing drills with Love Company. The times he enjoyed with the Marines would become the most memorable days of his childhood and throughout his life.
Nathanial Hartsell and Carissa Westfall stand
with veteran Don Sexton in front of the barracks.
I have been paired with a veteran, Don Sexton, who is a southern boy from North Carolina like myself. Don was put on post to guard supplies from being stolen by Chinese gangs. While on duty in Qingdao, he has wonderful memories of his days with Charlie. They bunked in the same room, ate at the mess hall, and made their beds together.
Today, our tour took us to Qingdao Marine Base, which was first built by the Germans, taken over by Japanese, and then occupied by the US Marines when the Japanese were forced out. Charlie told us many stories about his beloved experiences with the Marines. One of Charlie’s favorite things to do was to watch movies, his favorite being westerns. His favorite actors were Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. He would sit at the theaters and watch the movies time after time, even if it was the same movie three times in a row.

Veteran Don Sexton
 Charlie attended a Chinese school the first few years of his education. He did not enjoy the school, however, and he sometimes skipped school to swim at the beautiful beach down the road. Later, when an American school was built the Love Company took up a donation every month in order to send Charlie there instead. Charlie liked the American school and he especially loved his teacher, Sister Blanda. Sister Blanda taught him what it meant to live for Christ and he greatly respected her. The school is still intact today and is still being used as a school. As we stood in front of the school gates, Charlie shared his childhood memories and how he became friends with Nancy Kelley and Amy James, who were both born and spent their childhoods in Qingdao. Amy was born to a German family and Nancy was born to an American family where her father was an import and export merchant.

Amy James, Nancy Kelley and Charlie remember back to their
 childhoods as they walk to their former school building in Qingdao.

 A beautiful landmark called the Pagoda Pier was the last stop for the day. It was an emotional place for Charlie and his Marine friends. This was the place were Charlie had to part with his Marine friends as they returned to America. Tears were shed and hugs were exchanged as boats took the Marines back to America.
 Today was a happy and emotional day for Charlie and the Marines. Getting to visit the places where they lived so long ago brought back serious, but mostly enjoyable memories for Charlie as he recollected his time at the Marine base, the American school, and Pagoda Pier.
 Nathaniel Hartsell

Charlie walks though the halls of his old barracks remembering his time
with the Marines.

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