Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Matias Chargualaf, who spent 21 years in service, including time as a drill sergeant and recruiter.
Matias Chargualaf waited so long for an answer to his application to become an apprentice at a shipyard in Guam that he decided to take the military entrance examination “just to see what would happen.” When he heard that he passed the exam, he began an Army career that lasted 21 years.
Chargualaf completed basic training at Fort Ord in California and advanced individual training at Fort Lewis, which is now Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in Washington. He also completed further specialized training for deployment to Vietnam. However, a policy did not allow more than one sibling to be assigned to a combat zone. Chargualaf instead served in the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea with the 7th Infantry Division, where he completed a six month-long tour.
After Chargualaf’s tour in South Korea ended, he spent 10 months at Fort Carson in Colorado with the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division, three years at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, and some time back at Fort Lewis with the 9th Infantry Division. After he completed his assignment at Fort Lewis in 1974, he married and received orders to go to Fort Jackson in South Carolina to become a drill sergeant.
Chargualaf spent two years as a drill sergeant until the Army sent him to South Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division for one year to serve as an instructor for the Noncommissioned Officer Academy. After that tour, he spent eight months at Fort Ord with the 7th Infantry Division. He then went to recruiter training at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. After completing his training, Chargualaf served as a recruiter for two years in his home territory, Guam. He said one woman he recruited stayed in the Army until she had to retire. He then served as a recruiter in Hawaii for one year. Chargualaf joked that being near Waikiki Beach was a particularly tough assignment.
In 1983, the Army sent Chargualaf to North Carolina, where he served with the 18th Airborne Corps Noncommissioned Officer Academy until 1988. He ended his Army career after a short time with the 96th Civil Affairs Special Operations Command, retiring as a first sergeant.
Afterward, Chargualaf moved to Saipan in the Northern Marianas. He worked as a physical education teacher’s aide at an elementary school. Chargualaf said he enjoyed using his drill sergeant training to teach, while his students enjoyed singing cadence while running.
Chargualaf passed away at the age of 68 in November 2016.
We honor his service.
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Fact checker: Shantoy Hansel