Charles M Earnest

United States Navy
08 October 1934 - 28 November 1972
Opelika, Alabama
Panel 01W Line 092

Naval Aviator

Silver Star (3), DFC (7), Bronze Star, Meritorious Service, Air Medal (38), Navy Commendation (6), National Defense, Vietnam Service, RVN Gallantry Cross, RVN Campaign Medal
Charles M Earnest

The database page for Charles M Earnest

10 Nov 2001

I requested Charles' bracelet because we shared the same last name.

I've never been able to see a photo of him nor contact any of his family or anyone who knew him. I would love to know more about who he was.

Forever thankful for those who served,

Joann Richards

31 Jul 2003

CDR Charlie M. Earnest Memorial
by RADM Grady L. Jackson, USN (Ret)

I was the A6A Bombardier/Navigator who had the privilege to fly with Skipper Earnest during our combat deployment to Vietnam commencing in May 1972, until he was killed on 28 November 1972. He was extremely well experienced in combat operations, as he had flown over 300 prior missions in Vietnam in the A-4 aircraft. Skipper Earnest and I were a very formidable A6A all-weather, night attack team after about a month of flying combat hops together, especially at night. I have never been more comfortable flying low level, and at night, than during this time in my 30 year flying career. We would routinely drop down to 100 feet over the water and coast in over North Vietnam very close to just south of Haiphong and then fly up to 400-500 feet above the ground all the time we were over land and being shot at by AAA barrage fire. These low level tactics were developed by Skipper Charlie Earnest to avoid the SA-2 surface-to-air missile threat, which was ineffective against low level targets. He was acknowledged by all as a brilliant combat tactician and a highly skilled Naval Aviator, and he was a leader to be emulated, which I hope that I did in the 17 remaining years of my Naval career after Skipper Earnest's death. Together we participated in some very exciting and interesting combat operations, three missions where we were awarded the Silver Star medal and five others resulted in the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

From a friend and his Bombardier/Navigator,
Grady Jackson
Rear Admiral, USN (Ret)

19 Oct 2003

I remember Commander Earnest that November day in 1972. I was working the flight deck and I can still see his aircraft going into the water. He would always take time to talk with the men on the deck. He would give you a smile which would make your day complete. Some of us still see your face often. We do miss you. Rest well, my friend.

Mark E. McAllister
Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class
Attack Squadron 105

29 May 2006

I was a Photographer's Mate on the SARA and I too remember when Commander Earnest went down. He was an impressive leader who always had time to recognize the enlisted men as an important link in the dangerous environment that war brings. I will always remember his smile and his care to always say "Thank You" following the many shots that I took of him.

From a friend,
PH2 James E. Goodloe

04 Nov 2006

Commander Earnest was my first Squadron Commander after joining VA-75 five days before the 1972 Vietnam cruise. Working in maintenance control office as an AZ, and with the AO crew on the flight deck during the cruise, I had a lot of chances to interact with the officers of the squadron. Commander Earnest had a reputation within the squadron of being a decent officer and a nice guy - his demise was both a shock and a very sad time. As an officer, we considered him "one of the good ones".

Rick Hartman
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

Notes from The Virtual Wall

Commander Charles M. Earnest, Commanding Officer, Attack Squadron 75, was lost at sea when his aircraft (A-6A BuNo 155622) crashed after a night catapult shot. His bombardier/navigator, LCDR Grady Jackson, was able to get out of the plane and was rescued.

A memorial service was held aboard USS SARATOGA on 01 Dec 1972. The text below is taken from the memorial service booklet:


Commander CHARLES "M" EARNEST was born on 9 October 1934 in Opelika, Alabama where he subsequently attended secondary schools. He received a bachelors degree in physics from Auburn University in June 1955 and after completing a year of graduate studies was commissioned as an Ensign in August 1956.

Commander EARNEST entered flight training in the Fall of 1956 and was designated a Naval Aviator in May 1958. Commander EARNEST's first squadron was VAW-33 where he flew the AD-5N SKYRAIDER and made Mediterranean deployments aboard USS INDEPENDENCE, USS SARATOGA, and USS INTREPID.

In August 1962, Commander EARNEST was ordered to duty as aide and Flag Lieutenant to Commander Training Command, Atlantic Fleet. In 1964, he attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California where he was a Distinguished Graduate earning a Masters Degree in Operations Research.

In November 1966, he joined VA-153, completing two combat deployments flying the A-4 SKYHAWK. In June 1969 he reported to the Office of the Secretary of Defense and served as an Analyst for Air Force, Navy, and Army Tactical Programs. Commander EARNEST reported to VA-75 as Executive Officer in May of 1971 and assumed command of VA-75 in June 1972.

During his career, Commander EARNEST has been awarded the Silver Star, 7 Distinguished Flying Crosses, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, 38 Air Medals, 6 Navy Commendation Medals, Navy Unit Commendation and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star. During his three deployments to the Western Pacific he flew 371 combat missions.

Commander EARNEST is survived by his wife, Minna, and two sons, Brad and Bryan.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
one who wears his MIA bracelet,
Joann Richards

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 10 Nov 2001
Last updated 11/19/2006