AUGUSTA — Monday will be a difficult day for the Havice family, though their feelings will be fitting for the holiday.
For the Havice family the holiday will not be about barbecue or campouts — and never really has been. This year, more than any other, it will be about Charley.
“Every year Charley was with the Veterans at the cemetery doing the program,” said Charley’s stepson, Bill Houchin of Augusta. “Our first thought is with him. He was a leader at the VFW and he did this every year.”
But not this year. Charley passed away in September, he was 91. In addition, Augusta Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6746 has cancelled its annual Memorial Day service at Elmwood Cemetery due to the pandemic. It will not be rescheduled. An Avenue of Flags at Elmwood Cemetery will be out in honor of Memorial Day.
That stings a bit for Charley’s family, but they do have the memories of Memorial Days of the past.
“As our kids grew up, they were there at those programs every year,” Houchin said. “He had our son down there helping with the flags. That’s the main thing, memories of Charley.”
Charley had six grandkids.
“He was a thy type of guy, he was an awesome step dad and grandpa,” Houchin said.
At the age of 17, Havice entered the military in November 1944, right at the end of WWII. His service records show he was a member of the Army Air Force — the Air Force was not a standalone service at the time. He was discharged Oct. 5, 1945.
“He was there before the air force was,” Houchin said.
In 1947 President Truman signed the National Security Act which established this new defense organization, and along with it the creation of the US Air Force as an independent service, equal to the US Army and US Navy. The official birthday of the US Air Force is Sept. 18, 1947.
Havice served the bulk of his duty in Alaska, before Alaska was a state. Alaska was admitted into union. on Jan. 3, 1959. He also served in Mississppi and South Dakota.
“One thing he talked about a lot was they wanted the troops to go out and sleep over night outside with very low temperatures, just to be sure that troops could do that,” Houchin said.
“They were using him to sleep outside in the winter in cold areas.”
Upon his discharge Havice moved back home to Kansas and started farming. After a few years on the farm, he went to work for Beechcraft in Wichita.
He later joined the American Legion and the VFW. As a volunteer with the VFW, he and his wife prepared funerals for veterans, delivered gifts to patients at nursing homes, took care of the cemetery’s flags and sent gift boxes overseas to military personnel. Charley held Commander, vice commander, and Chaplin positions of his VFW post for more than 30 consecutive years, and served in various American Legion positions during this time.
“He was a super good guy, he had lots and lots of friends. He loved his family and friends. He was constantly with family friends,” Houchin said.
And he became a father, and grandfather.
“My brother and I were his only children,” Houchin said.It was a whole different world to us when he became Dad to us. It was fantastic. He was stepdad for 50 years.”