16844 Charles Gunter Olentine 
12 Jan 1926 - 13 Dec 1999 
Died in Baltimore, MD 
Interred in Dulaney Valley Memorial Garden, Timonium, MD

Charles "Chuck" Gunter Olentine was born in Ft. Smith, AK. His father had served as an enlisted man in the Navy during WWI and in the Marines during WWII. In June 1943, Chuck graduated from high school at the Oklahoma Military Academy in Claremore, OK, with a strong desire to attend West Point and pursue a military career. Being too young for military service after high school graduation, he attended classes at Oklahoma A&M until he could enlist in the Army; he then earned an appointment to the Academy with the Class of '49.

Chuck was an excellent wrestler, participating on the wrestling team and serving on the Cadet Honor Committee all four years. He also played on the B squad football team for three years. He made friends easily, had a remarkable sense of humor and, at the same time, had the maturity and charisma that marked good leader. His academic accomplishments enabled him to earn an assignment to the Corps of Engineers at graduation.

Chuck dated Barbara Patterson of Baltimore during his last two years at West Point and married her just after graduation. Their union was destined to be happy, and they eventually welcomed two sons into the family.

Chuck loved the Army. As he would often say, "I can't imagine that they would pay me to do this," and ,,How great it is to look forward to going to work every morning." Command was a natural trait as he served as a platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander, and regimental commander. In between those assignments, Chuck gained a master's degree in civil engineering at MIT, and a master's degree in foreign relations at George Washington University, and graduated from the National War College. He commanded the 8th Engineer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, in Viet Nam and the Officer Candidate School Regiment at Ft. Belvoir, VA. He was an inspiration to many young officers, one of whom stayed in the Army solely as the result of Chuck's leadership and went on to become a major general.

Chuck's final assignment was in the Chief of Engineer's Office, Department of the Army, from which he retired in 1975. Among the awards received while in the Army were three Legions of Merit, the Bronze Star, and eight Air Medals.
Chuck immediately went to work with the Department of Energy, Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves Office, where he served as the office director in the Office of Business Management and Development. During the course of his second career, he received several cash awards, retiring again in February 1994.

Chuck enjoyed horses and spent many happy years breeding and racing thoroughbreds in the Maryland and Virginia area. Those were happy years for the Olentine family as their sons finished schooling in Virginia, went on to college, and pursued their respective careers.

In the early 1990s, Chuck began having health problems, and as they persisted, he and Barbara decided to move to Oak Crest, a retirement community in Baltimore. Despite his health problems, Chuck insisted on being the perfect host, introducing his guests to the savory delights of Maryland crab cakes. After a valiant fight, Chuck succumbed in the John Hopkins Hospital on 13 Dec 1999. His wife,  Barbara; sons Charles Gunter Olentine, Jr., of Sterling, IL, and Stephen Patterson Olentine of Princeton, NJ; and five grandchildren survive him.

MG (Ret.) Frank Koisch '42 wrote: "Charles Olentine was one of the best company commanders I have ever had serve under me. He somehow fostered a rapport with his troops that was obvious. They respected him and liked him. He was a soldier's soldier; a real combat engineer." Chuck had the unique ability to remember friendships long past and continue them as if there had been no interruption. Those in his command loved him, and he cherished their unswerving loyalty. There were many letters from those who had served with him, especially those individuals in Viet Nam.

He is remembered by his classmates as a caring, humorous friend; conscientious and sincere in his studies and his work; an achiever, but one who never took himself too seriously; one who always had time to support his classmates and who, after graduation, gave the same thoughtful, loyal, and loving support to his family.

He was the epitome of West Point's honor code. His sense of duty and his love for his family and his country have well earned him the accolade of "Well done. Be thou at peace."

His family and friends


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