Carlos Chavez, Jr

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
11 September 1949 - 25 June 1970
Oxnard, California
Panel 09W Line 090


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Carlos Chavez, Jr

28 Dec 2002

Carlos Chavez and me
Carlos on the right, me on the left


While searching the Internet in hopes of finding information on a fellow squad member's family - whom I served with in Vietnam - I came across a website that I feel deserves more attention and would like to pass on to you.

It certainly filled an emotional and physical need for me; one that I have carried around literally for 30 years. You see, I added Carlos' picture to my photo album before I went on R&R to Australia. Carlos was the driver of our personnel carrier (M113). We had a rotation as far as job assignments on the track, they were grenadier and ammo humper, driver, left or right side gunner M60 or 50 cal. Machine guns and track commander. Carlos loved that driving assignment and passed over several times to trade for any of the other positions. Some time before I left for R&R, Carlos decided to give up his driving spot and take one of the machine gun spots, and I would become the driver. Unfortunately, Carlos' life ended when the track he was driving ran over a 122 rocket buried on the driver's side of the trail. In a M113 the driver sits just inches from the track and wheels. He didn't have a chance!

For over 30 years I may have viewed that picture of Carlos maybe 4 or 5 times wondering if it was the last one ever taken, or if a friend or family member would enjoy viewing it. I've decided to pull that picture very carefully from the old moldy photo album where the pages stick together with age, and the only reason you have to view it is because it is in the way of something else you are looking for. Knowing you are sharing a memory with a friend or relative of a loved one who gave their all for us, that survivors and future generations sharing memories can fill a void.

From a friend,
Dennis Withers

05 May 2003

I was on the same Track as Carlos also.
And after thirtythree years it's like it was yesterday.
We're having a reunion this 4th of July in part,
in remembrance of you and a couple others.
Sleep well Brother, you'll not be forgotten.

Pete Quigley

14 Nov 2003

I often think of those who stayed behind
What price they paid for me
Their dreams remain but just a dream
While mine blossom with time

They'll not feel their mother's pain
Nor wipe away her tears
Their father's ache they'll not console
Yet mine i hold so near

A lover's love they shall never taste
The child they'll not know
A father's pride, a mother's hopes
While mine forever grow

A walk along a sandy beach
Sunrise in my eyes
A warm and gentle breeze
Nor the colors of the fall
These simple things they gave
For this they gave their all

They stayed behind so we might go
Their voices I still can hear
The taste of blood, the stench of death
The pain etched upon their face
Such a god-forsaken place

I'll not forget the price they paid
The life they held so dear
In hopes we might build a better place
One free of hate and fear

The list grows long and longer still
Their names carved in granite stone
Fifty eight thousand listed there,
So no one shall stand alone

Some say it was only God's will
Perhaps to ease our mind
Yet as I travel down life's path
My family by my side
I'll always know deep inside
It could have been me not them
Who stayed behind

Dedicated to Hughie, Rocky O'Ham, and Carlos Chavez
by Larry 'Tex' Fincher
1/77 Armor Scout Platoon
2303 William Circle, Ennis Texas 75119

May they rest in peace

01 Dec 2003

I would like to thank the gentlemen who posted this memorial to Carlos, he was a friend of the family. Our mothers went to the same church. His family will be happy to know that he had and has good friends. Yes, I still think about him, for his loss brought the reality of war home to us on a personal note. I was a young man and it saddened me to see my best friend and family cry at the loss of son and brother.

Thank You very much for what you've done, then and now.

From a friend,
Mario Mayorga

04 Dec 2003

My track was supposed to go in front of Carlos' but he cut in front of us - we laughed about that, not knowing what was soon to happen. After the explosion everyone "herring-boned" and started shooting. SSG Smith and I were the first on the smoking track. Carlos was blown out of the driver's hatch and fell back into it. I was the first to reach Carlos and attempted to pull him from the hatch - I couldn't because he was too "puffed" from the explosion. We finally got him out of the hatch using a poncho liner. He was still alive. I remember looking into his opened eyes and wonder to this day if "he knew". He had a terrible wound on his throat. I was told he died enroute to Quang Tri Firebase. Carlos and I visited in his "hooch" prior to his death. He told me he was a Catholic and an altar boy - I told him I was too. If my memory serves me right I think he was married and either had a child or one on the way. He was an outstanding soldier and always did his duty. It was an honor to serve with him and the other solders of HHC, 1/77 Armor Scouts.

The Comanches say "Brave Warriors die young" - SP4 Carlos Chavez Jr. was a "Brave Warrior". It has been over thirty-three years and I haven't nor will I ever forget Carlos.

From a friend and fellow soldier,
Lanny G. "Ace" Asepermy
Sergeant Major, US Army (Ret)

12 Jul 2004

My Big Brother,
My Greatest American Hero

First of all I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this web page honoring my brother, Carlos Chávez Jr., and honoring every man and woman who served or currently serves in our military and those, like my brother, who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom. This page has brought peace to my life with the knowledge that my brother's memory is alive in so many people who knew him. May God bless us all and may God bless America!

Secondly, I want to add a few words about what it was like growing up with Carlos and what it means to me. I am also looking forward to seeing more entries added to this web page from his family and friends. Again, thanks to everyone.

My brother, Carlos (A.K.A. "Junior"), was my closest sibling in age and in many other ways. I remember throwing my dolls aside so that I could play with his trucks and airplanes. I don't remember ever having to fight with him over his toys because he was born with a big heart. He even allowed me to play marbles with him and his friends.

Junior was very protective of me. When we were late to school, First Communion or Catechism classes, he would make sure I had a note even if he signed it himself. He, however, would not sign his own note and had to suffer the consequences. The teachers and nuns, in the 1950s, were very mean and strict but highly respected by parents, at least in our community. They were allowed to physically punish the students for "bad" behavior such as "being late to class".

Junior loved mom and dad and worked very hard every summer as far back as I can remember. As kids we would go out with our parents to pick strawberries and walnuts, always for that measly extra buck to support the family. As kids, though, we would play more often than work and dad would get upset with us. By the end of the day, our stomachs were so full of strawberries that we felt we would burst. We turned out OK considering the strawberries were probably saturated with DDT.

During our high school years, Junior and I would work every summer at Seaboard Lemon Company in Oxnard, California. Junior worked hard and, at about 75 cents per hour, earned enough money to buy himself a white 1965 Chevrolet Impala. That was a "cool" car back then and the girls were looking for the guys with the "cool" cars. I was sad when he got married because I believed he deserved to do a lot more with his young life before he settled down.

While he was in Vietnam, Junior continued to give "Big Brother" advice to me through his letters. When he died, after comparing his letters to me with his letters to our dad, I noticed how he continued to be protective of me and our mom. In his letters to our dad, Junior described in detail how bad things were in Vietnam and how hard it was to get parts for his tracked vehicle. In his letters to me, however, he seemed to be more concerned about the family (mom, his brothers and sisters) than about himself and wanted to know how we were doing. He told me how happy he was about his promotion to Specialist 4 and advised me that with hard work, I could have anything I wanted.

I adored my brother, and never took his advice lightly. His advice and mom's insistence on education are the reasons why I am where I am today. In my heart I've dedicated my own service in the California Army National Guard to Junior. I worked my way up to the rank of Captain not just for our country but for him because that's what he would have wanted me to do. After 22 years of military service, I retired due to complications from an accident (chillingly similar to his) on a tracked vehicle. Everything was similar in both military incidents except in my case, it happened during training, in a different year, and there was no explosion. My incident played a positive role for me because it gave me an understanding of Junior's last moments of life. In most cases involving massive injury the body goes into shock and because of my knowledge and personal experience, I can rest assured that he was spared from physical pain before he died.

I feel very fortunate to have been so close to Junior during our entire lives before Vietnam and to have so many happy memories of him etched permanently in my mind. I know he is in heaven because his heart was in the right place.

I love you, Junior and - you know - I really miss that good "Big Brother" advice!

From your sister,
Elisa Chávez Ashe
Captain, U S Army Reserves, Retired
6890 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka, CA 95503

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
his sister,
Elisa Chávez Ashe
Captain, USAR (Retired)
6890 Myrtle Avenue, Eureka, Ca 95503

Top of Page

Virtual Wall icon

Back to
To alpha index C
CA State Index . Panel 09W
77TH ARM RGT Index

With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 28 Dec 2002
Last updated 10/28/2006