1969: MCHS graduate Becker dies in Vietnam


M-Di-An yearbook, 1967-68

Charles Warner Becker graduated from MCHS in 1968. This is his senior yearbook photo. After graduation, he served in Vietnam for a few months before dying from an accidental explosion of a claymore mine.

Cassady Cundari, Editor-in-Chief

Note: This story, as well as one on David Anthony DeCoste, accompany part 2 of a series featured in the Oct. 23 print issue of the PPC on MCHS in Vietnam. 


58,220. The number of American soldiers who fell casualty to the Vietnam War.

Charles Warner Becker was one of those soldiers. To most, he is just a name without a face. An abstract concept repeated 58,219 times over. To those in Minooka, however, he was Chuck, Charlie, and to his classmates, “Slick,” and they missed him dearly.

A 1968 Minooka graduate, Becker started his tour in Vietnam on July 19, 1969. He served as a Light Weapons Infantryman with Co. A of the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and was awarded a Combat Infantry Badge, a Vietnam Service Medal with One Service Star, a Vietnam Campaign Medal, and a National Defense Service Medal for his contributions to the war effort. On Sept. 14, 1969, he died from an an accidental explosion from a claymore mine in Binh Duong, South Vietnam, according to the D.C. Vietnam Memorial website.

History forgot of him as an MCHS graduate, a friend, a son, a brother who died at just 19 years after not even a full three months of service. As soon as a number was added to the bold, black body count on the afternoon television, he became less of a boy and more of another faceless soldier to those who did not know him.

On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial website, a few people left comments beneath Becker’s name, detailing how thoroughly he impacted their lives.

“After all these years, I can still see his face,” wrote Mr. Mike Boyle in 2005.  Boyle, a veteran from Philadelphia, served with Becker in Vietnam. “He was a great guy, had no fear, and was full of life.”

Boyle met Charles when they first arrived in Dian, Vietnam among hundreds of other newbies. They trained together there, and were sent to Lai Khe and later the battlefield as brothers in arm in the same platoon.

“I still remember how excited he was when he was accepted into Recon (Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance),” wrote Boyle. “I can still remember seeing him off on the resupply chopper.”

According to Boyle, Becker had been flying to the fire support base near Dian when just a few days later, Boyle and the rest of the platoon received word of a “terrible mishap” at Gala where most of Recon, including Becker, was killed.

In 19 short years, Becker emerged from the small town of Minooka to fight for his nation in a conflict well overseas and in unfamiliar territory.

Just as the Vietnam War touched the small farming town of Minooka, a soldier with his roots in MCHS touched the lives of those all across an American nation.