OBITUARY

COL Charles E. Thomann USA RET

September 4, 1926November 25, 2020

Colonel Thomann died in his sleep, on November 25, 2020, in Parker, Colorado. At the age of 94, Colonel Thomann died as a result of advanced stages of Alzheimer's. Colonel Thomann was born in Pawnee City, Nebraska, on September 04, 1926. His father, Frank Charles Thomann, was Superintendent of Schools, and his mother, Grace Rachael (Smith) Thomann, was the county nurse.

As a young boy living in Yuma, Colorado, Charles was active in music and theatre. At the age of 16, he often sang on the local radio station and was affectionally named the "Boy Soprano of Colorado."

Having graduated from Yuma Colorado High School in 1944, Charles entered the University of Denver to pursue his education. Having reached the age of military enlistment, Charles was drafted into the United States Army and reported to Fort Logan, Colorado, on February 21, 1945. After basic training, Charles was assigned to a troop replacement unit and soon found his way to the Pacific Theatre onboard the USS President Jackson (APA-18). His destination was the liberated Philippines, where he saw limited combat action pursuing Japanese troops refusing to surrender.

With World War II at an end, Charles was assigned to the American Headquarters in Tokyo. Because of his musical experiences and talents, Charles joined the Ernie Pyle Theatre as a member of the Army Special Services group and started a theatrical troupe for American service personnel's entertainment. On Sundays, Charles changed roles and was General McArthur's Choir Master for church services.

Having achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant 4th Class, on January 3, 1947, Charles returned to the United States and was discharged at Camp Beale, California on April 30, 1947. Charles continued his education at the University of Denver. He graduated in June 1949 with a BA Degree in Speech and Dramatics, a Regular Officer's Commission in the United States Army on June 11, 1949, with orders to Fort Benning, Georgia.

Charles reported to Officer's Basic Training in Fort Benning, Georgia, on September 6, 1949. After completing Officers Basic Training, Charles received orders to Fort Lewis, Washington, and was assigned to the 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. Charles was initially assigned to F Company as an infantry platoon leader.

On December 27, 1949, on leave, Charles married Joyce Elaine Thompson in the Courthouse at Castle Rock, Colorado.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950. On July 5, 1950, Charles was assigned to the Heavy Mortars Company. As the 9th Infantry prepared to join in the fight, Charles was assigned to the 3rd Heavy Mortar Platoon and assigned to support the 3rd Infantry Battalion within the 9th Infantry Regiment.

The 2nd Division was the first combat Division to arrive in Korea from the United States. Charles departed with the 3rd Batallion, 9th Infantry from the Port of Seattle on the USS General C.G. Morton on July 18, 1950. The 9th Infantry arrived at the Port of Pusan, Korea, on August 5, 1950. Having offloaded the ships of men and weapons, the 2nd Division was ordered into combat, defending the Pusan Perimeter. After the North Korean advance was halted, the 9th Infantry followed the American advance into North Korea and crossed into North Korea on September 17, 1950, the day after Charles was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and became the Executive Officer and Gunnery Officer within the Heavy Mortars Weapons Company.

On September 25, 1950, Charles was wounded by enemy mortars suffering a concussion, hearing loss, and shrapnel. Charles received his first Purple Heart on October 22, 1950, having returned to his unit days after being treated.

As the weather turned cold in November, the 9th Infantry experienced a significant increase in enemy resistance as they were assigned to lead the Division's advance towards the Yalu River. On the night of November 25, 1950, at 8:00 pm, the Chinese attacked in massive force and began to overrun the American forward positions. Charles was ordered to withdraw through the Kunu-re Pass to set up defensive mortar positions intended to protect the Regiment as it and other units continued to retreat.

On November 28, 1950, while traveling down a narrow road in a jeep with several men in his command, the column was attacked by the Chinese. Charles suffered three bullets to his right shoulder and was thrown from the vehicle into a culvert. That evening and 10 miles down the road, Charles was medically evacuated from a military airfield near Pyongyang. Surgeries in Japan and Hawaii resulted in a nine-month recovery at Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Denver, where he was reunited with his wife and parents. Charles received his second Purple Heart on December 9, 1950. After 229 days since he was wounded and beating a massive infection that almost took his arm, Charles returned to active duty.

Charles's next assignment was the Tactical Department within the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, reporting on July 17, 1951. On October 26, 1953, Charles was assigned to the VII Corps near Stuttgart, Germany, as a Public Information Officer. Having been promoted to Captain on April 26, 1954, Charles was assigned to the 532nd Military Intelligence Battalion within VII Corps as the Editorial Officer for the G-2.

Charles and his family returned to the United States and Fort Benning on December 8, 1956, soon to become a military instructor in the 10th ROTC detachment within XI Corps at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, on August 25, 1957.

On August 15, 1960, Charles's next assignment was in the Briefing Section of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, Department of Army in the Pentagon in Washington DC. Charles became the Chief Briefer within OACSI on February 1, 1961, while being assigned to the Cuban Missile Task Force as an Intelligence Analyst Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Charles was promoted to Major on June 19, 1962. With the creation of the Military Intelligence Branch in the Army in 1962, Charles switched branches in 1963 from Infantry to MI.

In June 1964, Charles received orders to Vietnam. On July 14, 1964, Charles became the Chief for the Current Intelligence and Reports Branch within the newly formed Military Assistance Command – Vietnam (MACV). Charles's responsibilities included the daily briefings to the COMUSMACV, General Westmoreland, US Ambassador Taylor, and their staff in Saigon.

In August 1965, Charles returned from Vietnam, and on September 2, 1965, was assigned to the Estimates Office, Vietnam Desk within the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). Within months of returning to the Pentagon, Charles was ordered to attend the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth on January 6, 1966.

Having completed the course study, Charles returned to the Pentagon to head up the South Vietnam Branch within DIA on May 17, 1966. On June 28, 1966, Charles was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.

The Tet Offensive began in Vietnam on January 30, 1968. Within several weeks after the offensive had ended, Charles was one of several officers detailed to Saigon to investigate the intelligence data received prior to the attack. The conclusion of the report is the intelligence section had informed MACV command of a pending attack. Unfortunately, the command did not take the warnings seriously, believing the Viet Cong were incapable of such a massive attack.

In Charles's role within DIA, he was assigned to be the primary briefer to the Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson in the Situation Room at the White House on current issues related to the War in Vietnam. Charles remained in that role until he returned to Vietnam on September 13, 1968.

Charles returned to Vietnam as the Chief of Intelligence (G-2) for the 4th Infantry Division. Charles arrived at Camp Enari in Pleiku in the Highlands of Vietnam, reporting to Major General Charles P. Stone. After a year of successfully preventing numerous attacks by the North Vietnamese Army on the 4th Divison's area of responsibility, Charles was a few weeks from returning back to the States when tragedy hit the Division with the death of the 2nd Battalion (mechanized), 8th Infantry commander in a helicopter accident.

No sooner had his death been reported to Major General Donn Pepke, the current 4th Infantry Division Commander, Charles's orders were changed. With a six month extension, Charles took command of the "Panthers" 2/8 Battalion and commander of the Kontum Task Force on September 17, 1969.

On December 27, 1969, Charles was awarded the Silver Star for "gallantry in action while engaged in military operations on November 8, 1969."

After 16 months, Charles's second tour in Vietnam ended, and he returned to the Pentagon on February 2, 1970. Charles became the Acting Chief of the Pacific Division for the Deputy Chief of Staff for the Army's Operations. Charles later became Chief of the Vietnamization Branch within the Pacific Division on June 16, 1971.

On August 9, 1971, Charles was selected to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair in Washington DC and was promoted to Full Colonel on August 31, 1971.

Having graduated from ICAF, Charles assumed command of the 109th Military Intelligence Group stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland on July 31, 1972, until May 1974, when he became Chief of the Counterintelligence and Security Division of ACSI, DA.

In August 1974, Charles was assigned as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence for the US Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

On July 14, 1975, Charles returned to the Pentagon, assuming command of the United States Army Special Security Group until his retirement from the Army on May 31, 1977. During that period, Charles was instrumental in the founding of the National Military Intelligence Association (NMIA) and served as President of the organization in 1977.

Charles's military service spanned 32 years, 3 months, and 10 days!

After leaving the Army, Charles went to work for the Conservative Caucus as the Vice-Chairman. Charles entered the private sector and worked for Kappa, a defense contractor consultant working on developing the Agusta 109 helicopter built in Italy. After the project was completed, Charles became the Vice President for Development for the Free Congress Foundation, a Heritage Foundation subsidiary. Charles became the President of the American Society of Local Officials, another organization within the Heritage Foundation.

After leaving the political world of Washington DC, Charles became a very popular permanent substitute teacher at Broadneck High School in Annapolis, Maryland. Known throughout the school and alumni as "The Colonel," Charles was very involved in numerous activities within the school to include strong support for the Drama Club and helping in the production of multiple theatrical productions for over 20 years.

In addition to Charles's work at BHS, he taught several history courses at the Anne Arundel Community College.

Charles and Joyce have always had a strong connection with the military and sponsored several midshipmen from the Naval Academy for decades.

Charles remained active in local politics and served on the Maryland State Elections Board from 2007 to 2014.

Charles continued his love for music as a member of the Annapolis Chorale and an active member of the choir at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Crownsville, Maryland.

Charles was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Joyce Elaine Thomann, in 2011. Charles leaves three adult children, Mr. Mark C. Thomann (Cecilia), Mrs. Debra Joyce Carroll (Jere), and CAPT. Bradley G. Thomann, USNR (ret.) (Brenda). Six grandchildren – Mr. Jere Carroll, Jr., Mr. David Carroll, CDR Mark Thomann, USN, Mrs. Heather Callender, Mrs. Brittany Dieker, and Mrs. Brooke Newton, RN. and six Great Grandchildren.

AWARDS:

Colonel Thomann's military awards include the COMBAT INFANTRY BADGE, second AWARD, SILVER STAR, LEGION OF MERIT with two OAK LEAF CLUSTERS, BRONZE STAR with V and two OAK LEAF CLUSTERS, PURPLE HEART with OAK LEAF CLUSTER, MERITORIOUS SERVICE MEDAL with OAK LEAF CLUSTER, AIR MEDAL with four OAK LEAF CLUSTERS, JOINT COMMENDATION MEDAL, ARMY COMMENDATION MEDAL, GOOD CONDUCT, AMERICAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL, ASIATIC-PACIFIC CAMPAIGN MEDAL, ARMY OF OCCUPATION MEDAL (JAPAN AND GERMANY, NATIONAL DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL (3), KOREAN SERVICE MEDAL with two CAMPAIGN STARS, ARMED FORCES EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL with two CAMPAIGN STARS, VIETNAM SERVICE MEDAL with four CAMPAIGN STARS, PHILIPPINE LIBERATION MEDAL, VIETNAMESE ARMED FORCES HONOR MEDAL, VIETNAMESE STAFF SERVICE MEDAL, VIETNAMESE GALLANTRY CROSS with GOLD STAR, UNITED NATIONS SERVICE MEDAL (KOREA), VIETNAMESE CAMPAIGN MEDAL and the KOREAN CAMPAIGN MEDAL

Eight ARMY OVERSEAS SERVICE BARS

Services

  • Graveside Service

    Friday, February 26, 2021

Memories

COL Charles E. Thomann USA RET

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Allison Deger

February 22, 2021

My condolences to the Colonel's family. I had him as a sub at Broadneck high and he was a clear favorite among myself and other students. I can remember seeing him brightly smiling in the hallways, saying hello to so many kids. Everyone enjoyed talking with him. Years later I used to see him when I would take my late grandmother to Deep Creek. We would get a table next to his so we could talk over dinner, and he had that same cheery disposition. What a lovely man.

Rebecca Hollerbach

February 22, 2021

Col Thomann will live on fondly in the memories of Broadneck High School students everywhere. He was such an impressive yet kind and gentle soul and we all looked forward to hearing his stories when he would be in class with us. My condolences to his family. What an incredible guy.

Pat Neidhardt

February 22, 2021

So grateful for the opportunity to have known Chuck at Broadneck High School. He always had a smile for us and just made our day a little brighter. He had amazing rapport with our students and was highly respected and loved by them. As teachers we always felt blessed when Chuck could sub for us because we knew we had left our students in good hands. My heart felt condolences to his family. He was a great man in so many ways and I am thankful to have gotten to know him.

Carolyn Smith

February 22, 2021

I taught at Broadneck Senior High from 1982-1999. Col. Thomann was often seen in the classrooms & halls on the days he would be substitute teaching. I always felt that the students had a great deal of respect for him. I loved chatting with him in the hall during our planning periods. He was so interesting and had so many stories to share with all of us. My deepest sympathy to all the family members.

Brian Kolstad

February 21, 2021

"The Colonel" was a fixture of my time in high school, and his bright and shining light will be missed. He was an inspiration and his memory serves as an example of America's best.

Ryan Bellerby

February 21, 2021

I will always remember the wisdom and stories you shared with us at Broadneck! As I read your obituary, I was in tears thinking about your dedication to our country! As a 20 year retiree (this July) from the Army with one Purple Heart, you have even more respect from me than you already had! I only wish I could have conversed with you as an adult, and heard more of your stories so I could apply more of your wisdom with my own Soldiers. You were truly an American Hero!

'Til Valhalla' Sir! Thank you for leading the way for my generation! We have the fight from here!

Geena Hansen

February 21, 2021

I have so many fond memories of “The Colonel”. He was such an amazing man, with such a history and an amazing story teller. Nothing was better then walking into class and finding out your teacher was away and “The Colonel” was your sub. Honored to have had the experience of him and his stories at Broadneck High

James Bass

February 21, 2021

Thank you for your service, Colonel! I'll always remember how loved and respected you were by all at Broadneck. And I also remember being so fortunate to be able to run into you in Downtown Annapolis years later not long before it was my turn to deploy. You were always an inspiration, both in your enthusiasm for working with young adults and your love of our country. The world has lost a legend in you. Rest in peace!

Faith Bigelow

February 21, 2021

Sending my wishes for healing to you, Mrs Carroll, and to your entire family. What a great contribution your father made to this country and its people. I remember "The Colonel" from high school. Whereas we might otherwise expect to endure a boring hour of reading on days our instructors were out, we were always pleasantly surprised to enter the classroom and find Colonel Thomann. I hope you are well and send you my thoughts and prayers. - Sincerely, Faith

Michele Logan

February 21, 2021

I remember walking into class and seeing the Colonel as the sub and thinking “Yes!!”. To have made a positive impression on an entire student body is an impressive feat. My husband, who also went to Broadneck, and I still fondly remember the Colonel from 20+ years ago. To have such a lasting impact on so many people is indeed a legacy. Our condolences to Colonel Thomann’s family; I hope we can continue to take his teachings of kindness into our daily lives to teach the next generation the same.

FROM THE FAMILY