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We are deeply saddened to announce the death of retired CW4 Charles H. Astrike Jr., 82, of Fayetteville, after a two month battle with cancer. Charlie died peacefully at home on Monday, June 8, 2015, surrounded by family. He fought cancer with the same courage, dignity and strength of character that he brought to his life.
Charlie was born May 18, 1933 in Huntingburg, Ind. He met the love of his life, the late Colleen Astrike, in elementary school. They married on June 4, 1953 and began their 59-year journey together.
Charlie was drafted into the Army in 1954. He often said that when he was training as a paratrooper he thought the smartest soldier onboard was the pilot, because he didn't have to jump out of a perfectly good plane. He was encouraged to sign up for flight school and so began his distinguished Army aviation career. He graduated from the Warrant Officer Flight Training Program in 1956. His first aviation assignment was in Fort Riley, Kan., for two years followed by one year in the Republic of Korea flying H-21's. His career continued with posts at Fort Knox, Ky.; Illesheim, Germany; and Fort Rucker, Ala., where he joined the Flight Standardization Division. In 1965, Charlie was singled out as the "Most Outstanding Instructor Pilot," at Fort Rucker. Charlie had a gift for flying helicopters and loved sharing his knowledge and skills with trainees.
From 1966-1967, Charlie flew CH-47's in South Vietnam. In October 1969, Charlie was selected for assignment at Fort Belvoir, Va. He became Gen. Westmoreland's personal pilot during Westmoreland's time as the Army chief of staff. One of the highlights of his distinguished career was being the instructor pilot for Gen. Westmoreland, Gen. Abrams and Gen. Weyland. Charlie was soon appointed as chief of the Flight Training Division at Davidson Army Airfield, where he was responsible for orchestrating the aviation training of more than 850 army aviators.
In March 1976, Charlie retired from active duty. His total active duty career was comprised of 22years active duty and included awards of the Meritorious Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm and one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal with 23 Oak Leaf Clusters and several Army Commendation Medals. Charlie accumulated more than 10,000 hours flying time with 8,000 of those as instructor pilot and 5,000 hours of multi-engine both fixed wing and rotary wing. Charlie also holds an FAA civilian CFII rating.
Just 10 months away from active duty, Charlie returned to aviation, only this time as an Army civilian. In February 1977, Charlie began instructing in the 2B24-UH-1 Flight Simulator at Fort Bragg. For the next five years, Charlie instructed pilots in instrument procedures and was eventually selected to be the instrument flight examiner for the XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Flight Safety and Standardization Branch.
In addition to a distinguished military and civilian aviation career, Charlie became very involved as a church and community volunteer. Charlie served as a dedicated member and Sunday school teacher for many years at Camp Ground United Methodist Church, served as chair of the Council on Ministries, and was a member of the Board of Trustees, Administrative, Finance and Staff Parish Relations Committee. He also served on the Board of Ordained Ministries and the Council on Finance and Administration for the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He was a member of the City of Fayetteville Planning Commission in 1996, 2002, 2004 and 2007, and served two terms as chair. He served on the Board of Appearance in 1999 and Board of Adjustment since 2012.
While his professional and civic life was filled with numerous distinctions and awards, his greatest accomplishment (in his own eyes) was his role as a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Charlie and Colleen had a long and loving marriage that set an example of loyalty, playfulness and commitment that has inspired family and friends alike. As a father, Charlie guided his daughters with wisdom, kindness, strength and protection. And as a grandfather, Charlie served as a loving confidante, demonstrating his pride for his grandchildren at every opportunity. His family will miss him deeply but will carry forward his devotion to family and friends.
Charlie is survived by daughters, Marsha Astrike Kouba, (Dr. Steve Kouba), Nancy Astrike (Joan Davis); grandchildren, Jessica Kouba Klenzak (Dr. Scott Klenzak), Stephen Kouba (Katie Sullivan) Emma and Evan Astrike-Davis; and great-grandchildren, Audrey, Molly and Kevin Klenzak.
The family would like to thank our many friends, family and co-workers, Home Instead Senior Care, Liberty Hospice, Camp Ground United Methodist Church and all his supporters at the Healthplex for your continued help throughout dad's illness. Your visits, kind words and prayers have carried our family through this most difficult journey. Cleared for takeoff dad; time to soar!
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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Date posted on this site: 07/01/2020
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