Charles Sooter

1st President of the

1st CEB Adoption Committee

While finishing my Masters Degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Arizona in 1965, my country became militarily involved in Vietnam. Immediately after graduation, I volunteered for the Marine Officer Candidate Program, rather than waiting and risking the draft, and was com- missioned a 2nd Lieutenant just before Christmas 1965.

Immediately after the Officers Basic School, I was flown directly to Vietnam in July 1966, because the Marines were short 2nd Lieutenants on the front lines. I became a platoon commander with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, which was stationed 17 miles south of Da Nang. My tour of duty lasted 13 months.

I re-entered civilian life after my enlistment expired, got a job with Rockwell Aerospace to work on the tail end of the Apollo/Saturn Space Program. I got married, bought a house in Cerritos, and had three children. Forty years later, I am still living in the same house, married to the same woman, and still working for the same Aerospace Company. I retired from Boeing in 2005 and began looking for volunteer service options.

When the opportunity was presented for the city of Cerritos to adopt a local Marine Corps Battalion from Camp Pendleton, I saw a chance to create an association between the city residents and a military unit. I moved quickly to volunteer and help formalize the city's adoption of the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. My service on the Adoption Committee, to help raise the morale of the troops and foster friendship between the 1st CEB and the City of Cerritos, has been a most rewarding experience.