WWII Marine Raider Shares His Stories With Marines
by U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Melissa Ugalde
It was humid and hot inside the courtyard of The Chateau at
Harveston, so 92-year old veteran Charles J. Kundert sat in the
shade and watched as the color guard from 1st Marine Raider Support
Battalion presented the colors.
Kundert was visited by
members of 1st Marine Raider Battalion on June 11, 2019 to honor his
service as a Marine Raider during World War II.
June 11, 2019 - Marines recognize
92-year old Marine Corps and WWII veteran Charles J. Kundert
(on left during WWII) for his gallant service as a Marine
Raider during World War II. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps photos by Pfc. Melissa Ugalde)
“Mr. Kundert embodies Spiritus Invictus, meeting one of
the original raiders of World War II was both an inspiration and
truly an honor,” said a Marine Raider present at the event who asked
to remain anonymous due to security concerns.
for the visit, Kundert laid out a display of all of his World War II
memorabilia, including notebooks where he wrote his experiences
every day during the war. He explained each one in detail to the 10
At the start of World War II, Kundert was
still in high school finishing his senior year.
realized that we were very vulnerable. On the west coast we had
nothing. It didn’t look very good,” said Kundert.
Temecula, California resident, Kundert enlisted in the United States
Marine Corps in 1942 at only 17 years old.
“I went to boot
camp in San Diego, infantry training at Camp Elliot and on July 1,
1943 ... I set sail for the South Pacific.”
While going through
infantry training, Kundert volunteered to become a part of the newly
founded Marine Raiders. The Marine Raiders were established during
World War II to conduct raids behind enemy lines in light amphibious
craft. They are often considered to be the first United States
“special forces” of the war.
Kundert served honorably in
World War II with 3rd Marine Raider Battalion. He reminisced on
major events of World War II he was a part of.
was nasty, dirty, wet. It rained all the time and we were living in
a swamp which makes it very uncomfortable. “
his daughter, and Anaya, his great-granddaughter watched along
proudly as he talked passionately about his time to fellow Marines.
U.S. Marine Corps and WWII veteran
Charles J. Kundert (92) discusses his World War II memorabilia
with 10 Marines, who were visiting him at The Chateau at Harveston, Temecula, California
... as his daughter and great-granddaughter
watch on June 11, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by
Pfc. Melissa Ugalde)
“He was very excited about this meeting,” Jordan said. “When
he ended his enlistment they disbanded, The Raiders were no more. I
think that always bothered him a little bit. When they brought The
Raiders back he was excited about that. He was very excited to be
able to share his stories and the memorabilia with the new Raiders.
He was really looking forward to this.”
In 1944, the Marine
Raiders was disbanded. Men who previously served in Raider units
went on to serve with distinction from 1944 to 1945. In 2006, the
activation of United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations
Command (MARSOC) paid homage to the Marine Raiders by incorporating
the Marine Raiders famous knife, the Marine Raider Stiletto, in
their detachment’s insignia.
In 2014, MARSOC announced that
all units within MARSOC would undergo a name change. This changed
Marine Special Operations Battalion to Marine Raider Battalion. Thus
reviving the Marine Raider legacy.
“Meeting any military
member of the greatest generation is an experience in itself,
meeting a Raider hits just a little bit harder knowing he’s one of
us,” said another Marine Raider present at the event who asked to
remain anonymous due to security concerns.
over 30 years before he began reaching out to those who served
alongside him and telling his stories.
“Not until probably
30 or 40 years later did he reconnect with them. He closed that
chapter and moved on. It wasn’t until much later that he started
being interested again,” said Jordan.
Now, Kundert is
extremely proud of his service. His photo hangs on a wall in the
lobby of his retirement home alongside all the veterans who reside
there with him.
"There’s only one branch,” Kundert said.
“United States Marine Corps.”
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