“West Point Prepared Me To Do Whatever I Wanted To Do”: A ’61 Grad’s Lifetime Of Service

Charles Hansell


Charlie Hansell moved around a lot as a kid based on his father’s career as a geologist and he eventually attended high school in Denver, Colorado. His dad had attended the Naval Academy for a few years before finishing at a civilian school, so Charlie initially applied to Annapolis. His congressman had no appointments left for the Naval Academy, but had one for the Military Academy, so Charlie ended up at West Point. As a Cadet, he spent time on the wrestling team, but unfortunately found himself behind a national champion wrestler in his weight class. He commissioned into the Artillery and initially served in Hawaii, where he trained a platoon of Soldiers to serve as helicopter door gunners supporting advisors in Vietnam. His four-month deployment to Vietnam in 1964 made him among the earliest in his class to serve in-country. He later returned as an advisor himself in 1970-71, after earning a graduate degree in geography and teaching at West Point for two years in the late 60s. In the second half of his career, Charlie played a key role in the rebuilding of the Army in the post-Vietnam era through several different assignments at locations around the United States and in Germany. After promotion to Brigadier General, he concluded his active-duty service as the commander of US Army Cadet Command (ROTC) 2nd Region. After retiring from the Army, he went back to school and earned his certification as a CPA before starting his own accounting practice. In this interview, Charlie talks about his wide range of experiences in the Army including his early time as a small-unit leader, his two different deployments to Vietnam, and his time on the training side of the Army at the end of his career. He concludes the interview by sharing his thoughts about what West Point means to him.


conflicts Vietnam War Cold War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Army Athletics USMA 1961 West Point History
interviewer Rick Black
date 28 January 2022


name Charles Hansell
institution USMA
graduation year 1961
service Artillery
unit 9th Artillery; 25th Division Artillery; Department of ES & GS, USMA; USARV; 1st Battalion, 76th Artillery; 2nd Battalion 8th Artillery; 7th Division Artillery; ROTC Cadet Command 2nd Region
specialty Department of Earth, Space, and Geographic Sciences
service dates 1961 1991