Charlie Schweiger in Washington, DC
A stranger welcomes Charles home at the airport.
Sweetwater Residents welcoming the Honor Flight home
“It was wonderful! We broke down the barricades and everything!”
That was Charles Schweiger’s first report of his Honor Flight trip to Washington during the government shut down that had placed barriers around the World War II memorial and others.
Charlie was the third Sweetwater WW II veteran to make a Big Sky Honor Flight to our nation’s capital. Like the others, he had hesitated to go, but is glad he did.
A native of Wisconsin, Charlie entered the Navy in 1945 and was sent to radar school. Before his training was finished, the long years of war came to a sudden and unforeseen end with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan. He was discharged in 1946 and began a career with the railroad, first as fireman, then as engineer.
Although he enjoyed his railroading life, he eventually enrolled in the University of Wisconsin to study geology and begin a career as a geophysicist. This would take him to twelve states and three countries exploring for oil. He was based in Calgary, Alberta for several years when he was exploring for oil in the Canadian high arctic. Today, all three of his children remain in the Calgary area, having married Canadians.
Tragedy came early into Charlie’s life when his wife died in an auto accident in 1959. His parents in Wisconsin and other family members were able to step in and care for his young family until he married again in 1963. His second wife Bonnie passed away in 2002. He had a home in Billings for several years but has lived at Sweetwater since July of last year.
Charlie has enjoyed many creative hobbies in his life, including wood carving and cabinet making. Some of his handiwork was even on display at Sweetwater’s Arts and Crafts show earlier this year. He has also enjoyed gardening, camera repair, photography, and working on various machinery. He’s obviously not a man who has spent much time sitting around idly.
In Washington, Charlie made a point of talking to all three members of the Montana Congressional delegation, particularly mentioning health care and how the Canadian system is financed. He pointed out that 91% of people in Canada say they are happy with their health care.
When Charlie came back home from the Honor Flight, he brought a piece of yellow tape saying “Do Not Cross” from one of the monuments, and many emotional memories. He says, “It was the most wonderful trip I ever made in my life. It’s etched in permanent ink.”
Written by Lorraine Collins