SAN DIEGO Charles Southwick passed away on December 9th, 2017 from complications resulting from cancer. He passed quietly and peacefully in his sleep.
He was born in Fairbanks Alaska and settled in Seattle Washington in 1944 where he attended Renton Junior-Senior High School and then the University of Washington where he lettered in track. He completed the National Aviation Cadet program receiving his commission and Wings on April 13, 1955. He served in fighter squadrons from 1955-1964 flying FJ-3 Furies and F-8 Crusaders, from 1964 to 1966. Following a brief stint at the Bureau of Naval Personnel, he returned to the cockpit in October 1966 flying the F-4B Phantom. He participated in the “Gulf Of Tonkin” indecent in 1964 strafing and sinking a North Vietnamese PT boat that was attacking the destroyer, USS Maddox. In April 1967 he and his RIO, Jim Laing, shot down a MiG in a dogfight. He and his RIO were forced to do a controlled ejection due to low fuel resulting from the dogfight. He was subsequently shot down and captured on May 14, 1967 during a mission against the Than Hoa bridge.
Following nearly six years of communist imprisonment and upon repatriation, he retired from the United States Navy as a Captain. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart (2), Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star (3) and the Prisoner of War Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon. He donated the tea cup he used to lead the choir during his imprisonment to the Smithsonian Museum, where it is on permanent display at the American War History Museum.
He held multiple positions in the private sector, including Assistant Deputy Director for Congressional Affairs, NASA. He also attained his JD from Hastings College of Law in 1976. He was also a docent on the USS Midway, providing special insight as he served on the Midway and flew F-8 Crusaders from her deck. He was also a long-time member of the San Diego Air & Space Museum Board of Directors. He was an avid golfer, baseball fan and lover of music. He is survived by three children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on the USS Midway on Thursday January 18th at 1:00 p.m. with a full Honor Guard ceremony followed by a reception. There will be a ceremony on Friday January 19th at the Mirimar National Cemetery commencing at 11:00 a.m., where his ashes will be laid to rest. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The USS Midway and/or the San Diego Air & Space Museum. Please RSVP via email by 1/10/2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebration of Life
- Date: January 18, 2018
- Time: 1:00 PM
- Location: USS Midway
- Address: 910 N. Harbor Drive San Diego CA 92101
- Directions: USS Midway