Local 2 New York/Vermont Veteran Survived Pearl Harbor

Journal: Issue 1 - 2013

Pictured here outside the Troy, NY Veterans Memorial in January 2013 are Paul Marcoux and Local 2 NY/VT members retired officer and Field Representative Sal Mauriello, retired officer Charles Sontheimer, Field Representative Mike Suprenant, retired reservist Lou Manicot, and BAC Northeast Regional Director Al Catalano.

Sixty-seven-year BAC member and Army veteran Charles Sontheimer says perseverance and his feet are partly responsible for the tour of duty that placed him at Pearl Harbor just months before the deadly attack that ushered the United States into WWII.

The Troy, New York native and member of Local 2 NY/VT, age 90, first tried to enlist with the Marines in early 1941. After being rejected for flat feet, he went to the Navy. Rejected again for the same reason, he tried the Army. "Finally they took me!" he says.

Brother Sontheimer says he asked to be stationed in Hawaii because he thought it was farthest away from his hometown. Had he been more knowledgeable about geography, he says he probably would have ended up in the Philippines, which is 3,400 miles further than the Aloha State.

Charlie survived the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, "a day that will live in infamy," and served until September 1945. His principal duties included training new draftees on becoming proficient at hand-to-hand combat, and, as a gunner, using an 8-inch gun that coincidentally was manufactured just a stone's throw from where he grew up, at the historic U.S. Army Watervliet Arsenal.

After the war, Brother Sontheimer joined then-Local 10 NY in Troy, and went on to enjoy a successful masonry and Union career during which he worked with the tools as a bricklayer, followed by many years as a highly respected Local officer and leader. 

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