By Jim Newell
Service has been a part of Charles “Chuck” Ring, Jr.’s life since he was a young man.
He served from 1943-1946 in the Marine Corps during World War II. Shortly after leaving the military, he married and had children and then became involved in the Boy Scouts of America.
During the Lake Orion Boy Scout Troop 128 Court of Honor ceremony on Oct. 23, Ring received a rare and distinguished honor, acknowledging the 50 years he has devoted to Boy Scouts and local youth.
Denver Laabs, development director for the Boy Scouts Great Lakes Field Service Council, presented Ring with the award from the national office and Chief Scout Executive Michael Cerbone.
“Mr. Ring, we are presenting you your 50-year veteran service award. I’ve never seen this presented to a scouter in my tenure in scouting. It’s an exceptionally rare award for an exceptionally rare man,” said Laabs, who has been with the organization for 25 years.
“On behalf of the Boy Scouts of America…it is my honor to present to you, and thank you for your years of service, the 50-year Scouters Veteran Award.”
Ring, 93, is the most senior volunteer in the Great Lakes Council. He was a charter representative for 45 years and is still a district committee member-at-large.
“Stalwart volunteers such as yourself make this organization great,” Cerbone wrote. “You’re the ones who get things done and never ask for credit. Year after year, your personal involvement and guidance help develop young people into America’s involved leaders. We can’t thank you enough for giving so much for so long. Congratulations on a scouting anniversary that is truly golden.”
When asked what his impression was of the ceremony honoring his 50 years of service to the Boy Scouts, Ring had a simple answer: “It was good. It was nice of them.”
Ring started in Boy Scouts in 1968 when his son joined the Cub Scouts in the Troy area, where he took a position as a Charter Representative, a position he’s held ever since.
In 1976, Ring and a few others started Troop 128 in Orion Township with only five scouts at the time.
“Four of them made Eagle Scout out of the five boys that originally started that troop,” Ring says. “Now, they have over 50 boys in the troop.”
For the past 27 years, Ring has worked for Sherman Publications, Inc., delivering newspapers to local businesses and making connections with new businesses to carry The Lake Orion Review and Oxford Leader.
“I like it. I enjoy it. Everyone on the route knows me and it gives me something to do,” Ring says. “I walk into the bank and they all say, ‘Hi Charlie.’”
Throughout his route, wherever he goes, everyone knows Chuck by name. He delivers the newspapers, collects the money, expands his routes and opens new accounts. Business owners know when he’s coming and give him a slice of pizza, an ice cream or a soda when he stops in for business and a chat.
He’s got a good-natured sense of humor – and a little bit of a mischievous twinkle in his eye. “They all know me, so I can’t get into any trouble. I can’t rob the bank because they all know me,” Ring jokes.
Ring was born Feb. 14, 1925 in Kane, Illinois. He married his wife, Vivian, Feb. 7, 1948 in Clawson, Michigan, and were married for 69 years, before Vivian’s death earlier this year. They have three children, Theresa Aili, Pamela McAlpin and Charles Ring, III.
During World War II, Ring, who was drafted out of high school, was in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. He was on active duty from 1943-46.
Ring made Private 1st Class right out of boot camp and qualified as a Browning automatic weapons specialist, carrying a 21-pound Browning from World War I.
He was first stationed on Saipan, Marianas Islands in the Pacific. On the third day, June 1944, while on burial detail for enemy combatants, a piece of shrapnel from a grenade tore into his leg.
His commanding officer asked Ring if he was alright. “I tried to stand up and fell right back down. So, they shipped me to the hospital in Guadalcanal for treatment and then I went back to Saipan,” Ring said.
One drawback of being sent to the hospital, besides the injury, Chuck says, is the when we returned to active duty the Corps gave him a new rifle.
“It was plastic and it jammed on me. I was so mad at that plastic piece…I could have thrown it in the ocean,” he said. He ditched the plastic weapon (in 1942, a shortage of black walnut for butt stocks and grips led to the development of a black plastic butt stock for the BAR) and found a new rifle, like his old one.
Ring also served on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands and was stationed in Nagasaki, Japan in 1945 until his discharge from the Marine Corps.
When he was being discharged from active duty, Ring says the 2nd lieutenant who discharged him said that if he signed up for another three years, he could make sergeant. “I said, ‘You know what you can do with that?’ I hadn’t been home in 33 months.”
Corporal Charles Ring received an honorable discharge in January 1946. He is a recipient of the Purple Heart and Good Conduct Medal.
While he may have left the Corps in ’46, Ring takes pride in his service and embodies the adage, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
To this day, on Veterans Day, he wears a shirt that reads, “Not as Lean, not as Mean, but still a Marine.”