by Senior Airman Jenna Caldwell
USAF 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
February 19, 2019
“All I could think of was, ‘I need to get out of here. I need to see if somewhere out there, I might have a chance in life,’” said retired U.S. Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Chuck Maack.
Maack grew up poor in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and his biological father deserted him and his mother when he was just a baby.
“My mother married a man who turned out to be an abusive drunk to her, as well as to me.” Maack explained. “This served as an impetus for me to want to get away.”
In 1949, at the age of 17, seeing a bleak future if he remained in Oshkosh, he enlisted in the Navy in the field of communications intelligence.
He spent most of his career ashore and stateside, wherein his duties included operating cryptographic and related communication equipment involved in top secret intelligence.
In 1963, while stationed in Hawaii, Maack became a black belt in Judo. He was then transferred to Kodiak Alaska, where he became a Judo instructor for young boys on the island, as well as a women’s self-defense class instructor. By 1965, he was recognized by the Armed Forces Judo Association for having the largest Judo program in the Navy, with over 150 men, women and children in enrollment.
Maack moved through the ranks to master chief petty officer, the highest rank an enlisted member can achieve in the Navy. Once he retired from the service in 1979, he work as a sales manager for a large bakery firm and as a coordinator for construction agency.
In 1992 Maack was diagnosed with prostate cancer and has been battling it ever since. He is currently in controlled remission. But, not to be discouraged, he made it his mission to help others suffering from the same diagnosis.
“I am not a medical doctor—rather, I consider myself a medical detective,” explained Maack. “I have dedicated my retirement years to continued deep research and study in order to serve as an advocate for prostate cancer awareness, and as a mentor to voluntarily help patients, caregivers and others interested in developing an understanding of this insidious men’s disease.”
Maack has used the leadership and technological expertise acquired from his years in the service to mentor others.
“A mentor should be someone who offers courtesy, professionalism, respect, wisdom, knowledge and support to help you achieve your goals,” said Maack. “As someone who has been there, I hope to make their journey one of better understanding and knowledge than was available to me when I was diagnosed so many years ago.”
Maack built an extensive website with reference material and also provides answers to hundreds of questions from medication, to treatment options and even palliative care. He has also published seven articles on the subject of prostate cancer and the importance of getting routine health screenings.
He was the recipient of several awards for his efforts including: Us TOO Prostate Education & Support Network 1st Edward C. Kaps Hope award, the Prostate Cancer Research Institute Harry Pinchot award and the Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network certificate for 20 years of dedication and inspiration.
“Leadership can be achieved when we choose to pass on and train others in a specialty we have achieved through our own choices of improving our lives,” said Maack. “Mentoring is a far cry from my military specialty, and a far cry from my expectations as a child, but difficult challenges have turned out to be easily managed as the result of my leadership roles in the military.”
“I am always as close as the other end of your computer to help anyone address prostate cancer concerns,” said Maack.