Volume No. 2 Issue No. 17 - Monday October 15, 2007|
Colonel Eddy L. Charles – Assistant Director, Afghan National Army SCSC
By Thomson Fontaine
“Dominicans in the U.S. Military are playing their part in the deployments to the Global War on Terror, and I'm proud of all of their collective accomplishments, officers and enlisted alike.”
Colonel Charles in the mountains of Kabul
These are the words of U.S. Colonel Eddy L. Charles, the Senior Mentor and Assistant Director of the Afghanistan Senior Command & Staff Course, an emerging National Defense College in Afghanistan.
When I recently made contact with Colonel Charles in Afghanistan, I felt this deep sense of pride in the accomplishments of yet another great Dominican of very humble beginnings, and compelled to share his story with our many readers.
He had just returned from an Afghan Middle school of over 700 children where he presented donated supplies of school stationary from US donors. Colonel Charles also delivered to the Afghan school principal clothing donated by his sister stationed in Italy for distribution to the children. He described it as “building closer relationships with our young neighbors.”
Colonel Charles is deployed in support of the U.S. Army's Headquarters Company (HHC), 218th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the South Carolina National Guard, as part of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VI in Operation Enduring Freedom, training the Afghan Security Forces.
Stationed in the city of Kabul in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Colonel Charles is assigned to mentor the Afghan Brigadier who is the Director of the Senior Command & Staff Course and to muster resources and provide technical guidance and direction in the running of part of the course.
The mission of the emerging National Defense College is to prepare selected senior officers of the Afghan National Army (ANA), National Police (ANP) and National Directorate of Security (NDS) for senior command and senior staff appointments by developing their command, analytical, and communication skill sets and competencies required at the strategic level.
I first heard about Colonel Charles in January of 2006 when he visited Dominica on the invitation of Gabriel Christian and Major Richards of the Dominica Cadet Corps. At the time, Colonel Charles was a Brigadier General in the Virgin Islands Army National Guard.
Later that year he was elevated to the position of Adjutant General and Commander of the National Guard in the U. S. Virgin Islands, rising to the Territorial rank of Major General. It was in that capacity that he presided over the laying to rest of two of his friends and fellow soldiers who died in Bagdad.
Col. David Canegata III, a St. Croix native, and Sgt. 1st Class Floyd Lake Sr., a St. Thomas native, were among the 12 soldiers on board a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter that crashed northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province on January 20, 2007.
At the time, Colonel Charles said his “heart cried out for Canegata, who had been his protégé, a warrior and his brother in Christ. “ "He was always positive and alive," Charles said. "We are all prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. David did. May he rest in peace."
In February 2007, Charles elected to forego retirement and return to full active duty as a Colonel in the Military Police Branch, for deployment in the global war on terror.
Colonel Charles poses with an Afghan army colonel, a former student
According to Charles, “I am in my element out here with the truly dedicated Warriors of this Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix VI, making a difference in the rebuilding of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan through the training of its security forces with every bit of valuable civil and military experience we can bring to the table.”
Colonel Charles is not short on military experience. After serving as sergeant of the Dominica Cadet Corps, he migrated to the United States Virgin Island where he joined the army in October 1971.
A Vietnam Era veteran, he served in Europe as a French Linguist and Finance Specialist with the U.S. Army Elements at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Belgium, and the 106th Finance Section serving the US European Command Headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
Born in humble beginnings in Pound, Roseau to Kenneth Charles and Geraldine Hilaire Charles, a young Charles attended the Roseau Mixed infant School and the St. Mary’s Academy and the sixth form of the Dominica Grammar School.
His grandmother called Dada, was half Carib. Colonel Charles remembers her “ with very long white hair flowing down her back to her buttocks. She used to wrap it up on her head to use as
cushion when she carried loads from the Boetica area, over the Fresh Water Lake route,
thru Laudat down to town for Market.”
Other immediate family includes brothers Michael Diese (Architect), Carlton (Pharmacist), Mateo (CPA), Lenroy (Construction Worker), Conrad (Pharmacist) and Renix Charles (Independent Businessman); with sisters Polly (Store Owner in Mahaut), Sandra (Hotel Employee, St. Thomas), Ella, Annette (Registered Nurse), Margo (Educator), Marvlyn (Cosmetologist), Yvonne (Educator), and Corinthia Charles.
His cousins include the Vincent Richards family of Bath Estate, Kenneth Isidore Charles, the St. Jeans of Boetica and Trafalgar, the Cambrans of Kingshill, Francis's in Salybia, Carbons of Rosalie, and Corriettes of Fond St. Jean.
Memories of being taken to the villages of Grand Fond, Boetica, and La Plaine by his dad are still fresh in his mind. At the time his dad wanted to make sure that he met his relatives and knew and understood where he came from.
His home in Pound has since been torn down to make room for the new government Headquarters. It was in Dominica that he made life long friends like Emanuel Lo Black, Julius Timothy and others.
Col Charles from humble beginnings to the top of the US military
Religious training even at this early stage of his life has molded him into a man of faith and commitment to God. Today, he is an accomplished gospel singer and shares a deep and abiding faith. Before moving to Afghanistan, Colonel Charles visited Dominica in support of Camp Londonderry, a summer camp for troubled teens organized by Father Franklyn Cuffy.
At a recent ceremony in Afghanistan to mark the Hispanic American Heritage month, keynote speaker Colonel Eddy Charles highlighted the achievements of prominent Hispanics and the contribution of immigrants to the US economy. “We salute our Hispanic brothers and sisters for what they have done and continue to do for our country.”
Let me also salute Colonel Charles and the many other Dominicans faithfully serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and those who are doing their part to make our world a better place.