MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- A local hero to Marines and civilians, who received many medals, passed away recently, leaving his legacy to his family.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Sir Charles P. Weiland died at 85 years of age April 23. Weiland was a loyal and decorated member of the military community who served his country proudly during World War II, according to Lt. Col. Stephen M. Hoyle, Marine Aircraft Group-31 operations officer.
“Lt. Col. Weiland was a great friend of the Tri-Command community,” Hoyle said. “After he left the Corps, he continued to keep active with the military, giving talks and (periods of military instruction) to Marines.”
During his career as an aviator, Weiland discovered his greatest love in life was flying, according to Terry Weiland, his son.
“He loved flying, and he loved pilots,” Weiland said. “Although he loved flying, the last 14 years, he was heavily into writing. He loved to talk, and tell stories.”
The retired Marine wrote two books, entitled “Manuscript Found in a Battle,” published in 1993, and “Above and Beyond,” published in 1997. He was writing a third book entitled “Wind Song of the Prairie,” which his son plans on finishing for him and publishing.
Before he wrote books or flew combat missions, Weiland was a farmer. Raised in South Dakota, Weiland’s family had a 1,000-acre farm, which he helped tend, according to his son.
“He told me how they used to use horses to pull the plow, and how he’d get up at 4:30 in the morning to milk the cows,” Weiland said.
Weiland joined the Marine Corps in 1940 to see the world, according to his book. His first assignment was with Marine Observation Squadron-251, which is now Marine Fighter Attack Squadron-251. Soon after his squadron reached the South Pacific, the VMO-251 pilots were seperated and assigned to various undermanned squadrons. During his time with other units, Weiland shot down an Imperial Navy Zero fighter over Munda field, New Georgia, on Dec. 12, 1942.
The Liberian Order of Distinguished Service granted Weiland knighthood, which was awarded to him by William Tubman, president of the order, in Monrovia, Africa, July 1947.
After serving many tours abroad, Weiland arrived at Beaufort to become the first executive officer of Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort. Weiland retired from the Marine Corps in 1962, after reaching nearly 22 years of active duty. When he settled in Beaufort, Weiland worked with a local plumbing, heating and air conditioning business, retiring again in1982.
With all the jobs his father held, and the memories he holds, Terry’s fondest is the way his father greeted him.
“I just always remember him greeting me,” Weiland said. “Especially when I came back from Vietnam… It was always him saying ‘Hello, Richard,’ in our driveway.”
The driveway where father and son shared those greetings is part of CAVU, Weiland’s home. The house is named for an aviation acronym meaning Clear And Visibility Unrestricted, which is perfect flying conditions, according to Hoyle.
Aside from writing and flying, Weiland loved his boat, the Midsummer Night’s Dream, according to his son.
“He loved his boat, He could tell lots of stories about her,” Weiland said. “Generally about sinking. He loved it if people came off his boat absolutely terrified of sailing. He nearly sunk us every time he went out.”
Over the years, Weiland kept in close contact with VMFA-251, according to Hoyle. His son believes that the retired Marine will miss his fellow devil dogs most of all.
“He is going to miss the Air Station,” Weiland said. “He’s got a lot of friends on active duty out here, and he is going to miss them.”