MASTER SERGEANT, UNITED STATES ARMY (RETIRED)
In 1961 Robert “Bob” Charest, volunteered for Special Forces. He completed Airborne School in April of 1962, immediately followed by the completion of Commo School and SF Branch Training in December of 1962.
Right after training, he was sent to the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Okinawa. Sent TDY on a six-month Mobile Training Advisory mission in Vietnam in July of 1963, he was assigned to A432 stationed in Boun Beng of II Corps. The team was responsible for off-island training with the Jari Montagnards. During this period in Vietnam he received 3 Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star with “V” for valor.
Robert Charest transferred to the 10th SFG(A) in Bad Toelz
Germany, serving with B Company ODA-19 from 1964 through 1967.
In 1967, he was chosen to lead a top-secret mission to Libya. He made two solo trips into Libya to coordinate with the US Embassy. After his two excursions into Libya he was given the green light to take a small team with him back to Libya disguised as Civilian
Communications Contractors dressed in civilian clothing. For the next 6 weeks they covered all of the Libyan Army Bases from Tripoli to Benghazi. While there, he was approached by two Libyan Officials one of which was the Libyan Army Chief of Staff, who informed him of an underground movement within the military that called themselves “The Black Boots; movement, and underground effort within the military to overthrow King Idris, King of Libya. The rebellion was led by a young man, named Muammar Muhammad al-Gaddafi. After the officials then asked Charest to become a paid informant, to spy on the underground movement, he and his team aborted the mission and returned to Stuttgart. Although Charest briefed the higher headquarters in Stuttgart of the plot, nothing was done.
In 1967, Charest began his second tour in Vietnam with B-56 Project (SIGMA) Military Assistance Command Vietnam – Studies and Operations Group (MACVSOG). During that year he was wounded for the fourth time. His actions were submitted for the award of the Silver Star while on a Hatchet Team. He was written up for a Silver Star and told it would be delivered to his next duty station, but it never arrived and he never received it. Thirty years later, Charest finally received the award, although it had been downgraded to a Bronze Star with “V” device. Efforts continued to have the award reviewed and upgraded, and in July of 2021, he was finally awarded his Silver Star.
Completing this tour in Vietnam, he attended German language training at DLIWC California. As he was also fluent in Russian, he was assigned to Detachment(A) Berlin, serving on Team One Scuba Team he was assigned to 1969-1972. Returning to Southeast Asia, he was assigned to A Company, 46th SF CO in Thailand on ODA-33. On July 2, 1973, Charest was awarded the Soldiers Medal for actions taken while involved in movement of ammunition from Camp Nam Pung Dam to Nam Phone Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Then, Sergeant Charest’s vehicle, which was loaded with ammunition, caught fire in the village of Ban Sa Amphoe Yang Tolat, Thailand. With complete disregard for this own safety, Charest immediately acted to prevent the fire from spreading to the structures in the village and causing injury to innocent villagers. In spite of the extreme heat, exploding ammunition and shrapnel, he drove the burning vehicle and reversed it approximately 200 meters out of the village. Through his heroic and unselfish actions, Charest preventing extensive property damage and injury to Thai nationals.
When 46th SF Company closed, Charest returned to Detachment(A) Berlin, Germany, remaining in station for five years form 1973-1978.
In late 1978, returning stateside and retiring in 1981 from the 10th SFG(A) in Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Robert Charest took a job with Vinnell Corporation in Saudi Arabia; however a grenade accident from a panicked Saudi National Guard trooper in 1981 and evacuation back stateside ended his tour.
Attending the University of New Hampshire, he received his Bachelor’s degree.
In 1985, Bob received a phone call from CSM Jeff Raker who was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. He informed him about positions for former SF-qualified personnel to work at SWCS. Bob parachuted in for his interview curtesy of CSM George Moskaluk 10th Special Forces, Fort Devens MA. Bob was interviewed an accepted on the spot as Senior Instructor/Advisor with the Commo Committee at the US Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (USAJFKSWCS). He worked for SWCS as a GS-9 SeniorInstructor/Advisor for the next 17 months.
This job was followed by one with FEMA/MERS first as a Senior Operations Officer, then and a GM-13 Security Manager.
Robert Charest, although fully retired in 1992, has remained active in the Special Forces community. He served as President Chapter 72, Merrimack NH for five years and led the effort to establish a substantial memorial dedicated to the 10th Special Forces Group at the Boscowan Veterans Cemetery consisting of an original 10th Special Forces flagpole and memorial stone.
Bob was an independent organizer for gatherings for local Green Beret functions starting 2005 and in 2008 transformed into Detachment”A” functions. He now hosts annual Detachment(A) reunion gatherings which attracts a large number of former members of Detachment(A) from all over the world; developed a Detachment(A) web site, established Detachment(A) SFA Drop input and keeps Detachment(A) members informed about Detachment(A) related news.
He served on the Veterans of Special Forces (VSF) board of officers as Director/Treasurer.
He served as Project Manager for the establishment of a Detachment(A) exhibit at the JFK museum. Many Detachment(A) artifacts were collected and catalogued.
He served as Project Manager for the Detachment(A) memorial stone project.
Charest was inducted as a Distinguished Member of the Regiment on 5 April 2012, his birthday.
JULY-56-MAY-31-81, Rank: E-8
- Awarded Special Forces Prefix, Suffix of #3# on 9-Jan-64 1st-SF OKI-APO-331
- Special Forces MOS: O5B-11F
Special Forces Units, Assignments and Inclusive Dates
- 1962 SF-Training-Group
- 1963-1964 -1ST SFGP-OKI-TDY-ODA-432, June-63-Jan-64-Vietnam-CHEO-REO, Montagnard (Jari) Camp Boun Beng
- Left Oki-July, 64 for 10TH Special Forces Group. B. Company, Lenngries, Germany ODA 19 and 18
- 6 months Russian Language School, Lenngries Germany
- Left for 5th Group Vietnam. Project Sigma 67-68 Ho-Ngoc-Tau, 11F Intelligence Sergeant.
- Later CCS South SOG.
- Went to language school DLI Monterey Ca. For German-68-69.
- Assigned to Detachment “A”, Berlin Brigade – 69-72.
- Then assigned to 46th Company, Thailand Nam-Pung-Dam. 72-73.
- Team Sergeant 11F ODA39
- Reassigned back to Detachment “A”, Berlin Brigade 73-78.
- Retired from Readiness Region 1 Infantry Team, Fort Devens, MA 1981
Awards and Decorations
- Silver Star
- Soldiers Medal
- Bronze Star with “V” for Valor
- Purple Heart 4 Awards
- Scuba Badge Dive Instructor Special Forces
- Master Parachutist
- Foreign Jump Wings: German, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese
- Thai Paru Badge
- HALO Wings
- Air Medal
- Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm
- Vietnam Civil Action Medal 1st Class
- Meritorious Service Medal
- Army Commendation Medal 3 Awards
- Unit Presidential Citation B-56, Project Sigma
- Distinguished Member of the Special Forces Regiment
- Detachment”A” Host/POC – The Man who Brought Detachment “A” in from the Cold
- President of Special Forces Association Chapter 72 for 5 and ½ years: 1997-2000 and 2001-2002
- Life Member of Special Forces Association(SFA) – D-599L
- Life Member of the Special Operations Association(SOA) – 646-G
- Veterans of Special Forces Association Director/Treasurer
- Life Member of JFK Special Forces Museum
- Vinell Corporation Military Contractor
- JFK Special Warfare Center Instructor
- FEMA/MERS Senior Consultant
Hobbies and Interests
- Formula 1, Indy Car, Sky Diving, Scuba, Skiing, 4TH Degree Black
- Belt TaeKwon-Do
- B.S. in General Studies, A.S. Business Management
- A.S. in Science