Charlie the PJ Charlie’s Rules are as follows:
- Charlie will be absconded only by fully and currently qualified or retired PARARESCUEMEN.
- Any effort by non-Pararescue personnel to abscond Charlie will be met with the full, unified force of the career field.
- Charlie will physically occupy and dominate a place of honor at all Pararescue functions in which his presence is expected.
- Efforts to abscond Charlie will not be instituted until the final hours of the function of which he is in attendance.
- Only covert measures reflecting great pride upon the Pararescue career field will be employed during Charlie’s acquisition.
- Physical violence will not be employed except during circumstances in Rule 2 above.
- Area destruction during any acquisition effort will be kept to a minimum except during circumstances reflected in Rule 2 above.
- Charlie will not be altered or changed in any manner unless authorized by the consensus of the Pararescue Association officiated by the President of the Association.
- His location need not be made public; however, he will be prominently displayed at all times during his tenure at his hosting Pararescue team’s section.
- Charlie will be transferred from point-to-point only through the most secure means, inclusive of U.S. Postal System, UPS, Federal Express, etc.
- If Charlie is absconded by a recognized Pararescue retiree, that individual will not retain custody of him for more than one seven- day period before surrendering him to the operational Pararescue team of his choice.
— OR —
The curse of a thousand PJs will be on you
if you violate these written rules!
It occurred in a moment of enlightenment in the tropical island group of Fiji in 1964; a chance meeting of one who was known throughout the Pararescue career field for his unwavering boast, “I’ll whip yo’ butt, sukka!” even as he laid sprawled across the floor; the other one was so bad-ugly, the former, no raving beauty himself, instantly felt sorry for the latter.
Yes, Tony “Don’t-hate-me-because-I’m-beautiful” Willis was drawn, witnesses state, by nothing less than familial kinship to the object that day: an eighteen-inch high carved wooden South Sea demi-god of unbelievable proportions and ugliness. If beauty is cast in the eye of the beholder, Tony is unequivocally blind.
The thing was christened “Charlie”, and immediately took on new dimensions within the Pararescue career field. He even began to receive better treatment and greater respect then Tony. At Eglin AFB’s 48th Air Rescue and Recovery Service, Howard Harley administered Charlie an initial Pararescue Qualification Check-ride, which Charlie accomplished with a solid Q-1, earning his coveted maroon beret, a parachute, diving mask, and fins.
Word of Charlie’s uniqueness and symbolism began to spread throughout the career field, and his presence was demanded at numerous postings. The 48th, however, was solidly intransigent about any Permanent Change of Station for its primo PJ; and that’s when it all began.
In the latter periods of that year, an unknown assailant – or assailants – within the Pararescue Brotherhood, infiltrated Charlie’s quarters and whisked him away to the scenic location of the 55th ARRS, then located on the Atlantic isle of Bermuda. It was the first in a long line of stealthy abductions of Charlie the PJ.
Knowledge of Charlie’s propensity for travel raced through the career field. Short-notice PCS’s became the norm for the little gnome, starting in the spring of 1965 when Aaron Farrior liberated Charlie from the 55th for a tour in Tripoli, Libya. That summer of 1965, through the summer of 1967, Charlie leaped continents: back to the United States, then to Southeast Asia, and on to Europe. By 1968 he was made the guest of the 40th ARRW, complements of travel arrangements made by Master Sergeant “Dashing Dan” Daniels.
By December, Master Sergeant Charles Kezer firmly believed that – by name alone – Charlie should be a member of his team at the 67th ARS in Moron, Spain. Both Charlie’s were so delighted with each other, that when the 67th PCS’d to Woodbridge, United Kingdom, in December 1969, Charlie the PJ, with orders, went also.
As accurately as possible, the following reconstruction depicts Charlie’s worldwide travel escapades:
|1964||48 ARS||Eglin AFB, FL||Howard Hadley|
|1964||58 ARS||Bermuda||Tom White and Lou Craig|
|1965||58 ARS||Tripoli, Libya||Aaron Farrior|
|1965||48 ARS||Eglin AFB, FL||Aaron Farrior|
|1966||38th ARRS, Det 5||Udorn, Thailand||Aaron Farrior|
|1967||67th ARRS||Moron, Spain||Aaron Farrior|
|1968||AARC||Ramstein, Germany||Bill Daniels|
|1968||67th ARRS||Moron, Spain||Kezer and Pappy Lacasse|
|1969||PCS of the 67th ARRS||Woodbridge, UK||Charles Kezer|
|1969||56th ARRS||Lajes, Azores||Unknown|
|1969||67th ARRS||Moron, Spain||Farrior|
|1970||56th ARRS||Lajes, Azores||KO Kelly and Wassuta|
|1970||67th ARRS||Woodbridge, UK||Wetzel and Phythian|
|1970||56th ARRS||Lajes, Azores||Unknown|
|1971||67th ARRS||Woodbridge, UK||Flower and Phythian|
|1972||56th ARRS||Lajes, Azores||Sgt. Wassuta|
|1973||39th ARRW, Det 1||Homestead AFB, FL||Unknown|
|1973||39th ARRW, Det 15||Patrick AFB, FL||Unknown|
|1974||55th ARRS||Eglin AFB, FL||Unknown|
|1974||HQ ARRS||Scott AFB, IL||MSgts Farrior and Stemple|
|1974||55th ARRS||Eglin AFB, FL||Jim Sargent and John Ford|
|1974||Unknown||McClellan AFB, CA||Wheeler, Wetzel and Team|
|1974||Unknown||Elmendorf AFB, AK||Unknown|
|1974||Unknown||March AFB, CA||Unknown|
|1975||PJ Reunion||Ft. Walton Beach, FL||Bob (Willy) Williamson|
For ten years, Charlie the PJ languished in the doldrums of premature retirement. By universal, career field-wide demand, he was returned to Fort Walton Beach, Florida. It was a momentous affair, highlighted by Charlie’s reenlistment conducted by Major General William Mall, Commander, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service.
But an uneventful occasion it was not. Just as the General was inducting Charlie, the ballroom lights were suddenly extinguished. A mad stampede was heard converging upon the table where Charlie sat. Tables crashed, chairs flew, women shrieked, and PJ’s fought. When the lights came back on, only empty-handed, red-faced, bewildered PJs could be seen. Charlie was nowhere to be found.
And with good reason. For under the table scrunched Chief Master Sergeant Dave Milsten (Chief, USAF Pararescue), with Charlie securely contained within his sinewy arms. The Chief had foiled a multi-effort conspiracy to, once again, PCS Charlie to the far-flung reaches of the world. General Mall, regaining his composure, ordered the Chief to protect and safeguard with his life (and any future hopes for any semblance of a safe and sane USAF career – as if the Chief were already leading such a lifestyle), and ordered the beloved mascot to be returned to Headquarters, ARRS. With those orders, the Chief promptly concealed Charlie from harm’s way and evaded out of the ballroom.
But that is not to say other attempts to abscond Charlie did not occur that night. Several more body-snatch attempts were made; all foiled. Technical Sergeant Wayne Walls, however, failing to be deterred by others’ failures, had his own ideas and did manage to grab hold of the little guy (Charlie, that is; not the Chief) and dart out of the hotel and into the night. Unfortunately for Wayne, the Chief had remained in peak condition far beyond the expectancy of his many years, and after a twenty-minute chase across the reaches of Fort Walton Beach, launched a flying tackle and downed the fleeing Walls. Charlie was safe once again – dependent upon which side one was cheering for. The next morning, under full Security Police escort, Charlie was a distinguished guest aboard the General’s Scott AFB-bound aircraft.
To expect Charlie to remain at Scott AFB and become a fully qualified headquarters puke was to believe in the tooth fairy, or that PJs had run out of excuses for losing their diving watches. After fitting ceremonies at HQ, Charlie was sent TDY to Kirtland AFB for requalification with a student PJ class. And, once again, Charlie began his travels…
|1984||PJ Reunion||Ft. Walton Beach, FL||Tony Willis|
|1984||HQ ARRS||Scott AFB, IL||Dave Milsten|
|1985||67th ARRS||Woodbridge, UK||M. Brown and Ken Svoboda|
|1985||40th ARRS, Det 4||Hill AFB, UT||M. Brown|
|1986||PJ Reunion||Albuquerque, NM||Guest Appearance|
|1988||67th ARRS||Woodbridge, UK||Ward Warren|
|1988||PJ Reunion||Ft Walton, FL||Guest Appearance|
|1988||55th ARRS||Eglin AFB, FL||Garcia, Shephard and Team|
|1988||1720th STG||Hurlburt Field, FL||Trujullo, Smith and Cardona|
|1989||1550 ATTW||Kirtland AFB, NM||Jim Morris|
|1989||23rd AF, Det ?||Kirtland AFB, NM||Ray Cooper’s Team|
|1990||PJ Reunion||Albuquerque, NM||Guest Appearance|
|1990||210th ARRS||Anchorage, AK||B. Hickson|
|1990||1550 ARRS||Little Rock AFB, AR||Jim Derrick Team|
|1992||PJ Reunion||Ft. Walton Beach, FL||Guest Appearance|
|1992||23rd STS||Hurlburt Field, FL||SrA Kelly & SrA Murphy|
|1994||24th STS||Pope AFB, NC||Unknown|
Charlie was obviously beginning to dig PJ reunions. However, in 1994 he failed to make his 10th Anniversary Return-to-Active-Duty Celebration due to his current unit’s preparation for the impending invasion of Haiti. He was sorely missed, but being the hard-core, blood-lusting mascot that he is, he could not pass up the opportunity for a possible fight with the bad guys of the world.
Naturally, the drive to acquire – and retain – Charlie as a team acquisition is a priority goal for all PJs. It is the visual demonstration of a team’s ingenuity, pride, esprit de corps, tenacity, drive – its wherewithal – to get the mission accomplished. Charlie the PJ is the spirit of PARARESCUE made visible.
|1996||USAF PJ School||Kirtland AFB, NM||Arrived via US Mail, sender unknown|
|1998||ANG Pentagon||Washington, DC||Dave Power|
|1998||PJ Reunion||Las Vegas, NV||Guest Appearance|
|1998||304th RQS||Portland, OR||Terlikowski, Mortensen and Team|
|1998||66 RQS||Nellis AFB, NV||Unknown|
|1999||304th RQS||Portland, OR||Turtle and Ross|
|1999||304th RQS||Bosnia, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo||N/A – Tour of Duty|
|1999||USAF PJ School||Kirtland AFB, NM||PJ Class 00-01|
|1999||304th RQS||Portland, OR||Unknown|
|1999||PJ Class Graduation||Kirtland AFB, NM||Guest Appearance|
|1999||23rd STS||Hurlburt Field, FL||Isaacks, Clark and Team|
|2000||PJ Retirees||Ft. Walton Beach, FL||Charlie and Vivian Jenkins, KO and Barbara Kelly, Jim and Marie Watson, Chuck Straley, Rick Chapman, Aaron Farrior, Joe Vigare & Pappy Lacasse|
|2000||23rd STS||Hurlburt Field, FL||Returned by PJ retirees|
|2000||Joint Canadian/USAF Pararescue Reunion||Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada||Escorted by the 23rd STS PJs|
|2000||24th STS||Pope AFB, NC||Steve Billman, Mike Atkins and Kevin Baum|
|2001||123rd STS||Louisville, KY||Kerry Miller|
|2002||123rd STS||Afghanistan||N/A – Tour of Duty|
|2002||38 RQS||Moody AFB, GA||SMSgt Sine|
|2002||58 RQS||Nellis AFB||SSgt Roberts and Debbs|
|2003||38 RQS||Iraq||N/A – Tour of Duty|
|2003||24th STS||Pope AFB, NC||Brian Jackson|
|2010||23 STS||Hurlburt Field, FL||???|
|2011||58 RQS||Nellis AFB, NV||Travis Shaw|
|2021||320 STS||Kadena AB, JP||Caleb Mauchly|
|2021||306 RQS||Davis-Monthan AFB,AZ|
Where Charlie is today is anyone’s guess. But one thing is certain, he’s out there, somewhere, appearing in the least expected locations, and disappearing whenever his absconders fail to adhere to the age old combat adage: You Snooze, You Lose!
Good traveling, Charlie!
4 thoughts on “Charlie The PJ”
Contact Konrad Schwinn, current PJ coordinator, based out of the Pentagon but working from home base in Tucson due to Covid restrictions. I know for a fact and have seen pictures of him rescuing Charley from Iceland(?) sometime in the mid 2010-2020 time frame – He presented Charley at the PJ awards ceremony later that year in ABQ(?) at which he was one of the award recipients. At that time Charley was again absconded at the end of the ceremony by a group of senior PJ’s with the avowed purpose to put him in a securely locked cage, visible but untouchable and stop all the ruckus and damages occurring over Charley. Konrad has spent much of his career at Davis Monthan AB running two teams before being escalated to Career Field coordinator (not sure of official title) but not sure if this had anything to do with Charley currently being located there.
After further thought I believe it was more in the mid – later part of the first decade 2005-6 ish?
I wish more people got to see and enjoy this side of the Air Force.
As an absconder of Charlie, who should I reach out to to amend the record of the units he “PCSed” to? There are two missing between 2019 and 2021. Thanks!