“This Guy Can’t Be No Eighteen Years Old”: A Career Of Service After Joining The Army At Fourteen

Charles Watts


Charlie Watts grew up in eastern Kentucky, and first joined the Army during WWII when he was 14. He completed Basic Training and Airborne School, but once his true age was discovered, he was separated from the Army. Undeterred, he joined the Marines while still underage, and served for two years in China. After leaving the Marine Corps, he rejoined the Army and served a full career, retiring as a First Sergeant. He served in the Korean War with the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team, and made the combat jump at Munsan-Ni on March 23, 1951. For most of his career, Charlie Watts served as a parachute rigger and inspector. In this interview, he talks about his experiences trying to get into the military during World War II as a young teenage boy, and about his service in China and Korea. He describes his time with the Rakkasans during the Korean War, and making a combat jump. Finally, he discusses the rest of his career in the Army, highlighting the pride he felt in being a Soldier.


conflicts Korean War
topics Military Families
interviewer David Siry
date 14 September 2016


name Charles Watts
service Quartermaster
unit 187th Regimental Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division
specialty Paratrooper / Rigger
service dates 1943 1968