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Charles Burcham

In Memory of 

STG2 Charles “Chuck” Burcham, USN

January 3, 1992 – March 29, 2022

USS Benfold, South Pacific

     Chuck was a son, brother, and friend to many.  From the day he was born, his laughter was one of his greatest attributes.   His day care providers use to call him Chuckles because he laughed so much.  The laugh was infectious and endearing.  He was a happy child and enjoyed so much in his life, we are so grieved he is gone.

     When Chuck was little, he would love to be held by his mom.  She said she carried him around on her hip to about age four.  After being placed in his big boy bed at age 2, he already had plans in his mind to always be close to her.  He would quietly open his parent’s door, get on all fours, and crawl to the opposite side of the bed where his mother was sleeping and ask to sleep with her.  Of course, was always the answer.   When he got bigger, she would just get up and go into his room.  He would lie with his back to her abdomen, she would tuck her arm around him and just hold him close until sleep would come to both of them.   This was one of his mother’s fondest memories. 

      He grew up like any other typical boy.  Riding a bike without training wheels at age 5, learning to roller skate, learning to play baseball and basketball.   One funny story was when they were teaching him to play baseball in their backyard.  They told him how to hit the ball, run around the bases until he made it to home plate.  Well, he hit the ball and his mother was telling him to run.   Run Chuck, Run.  Run home.. ….with that he ran into his house…..a place he knew was home.    

      Another place he knew as home was his Church.  He started St. John’s Lutheran School in preschool.  All of his teachers were kind and a blessing to Chuck.  He also had a bond with our Pastor Schultz.  When Chuck was confirmed in the 8th grade, Pastor Schultz thought Chuck would make a wonderful pastor.  Chuck really loved our Lord.  He was his mother’s bible study partner. They would share readings and questions and most of the time end up crying just speaking about how wonderful Jesus is.  His bible was his friend.  He loved his Church family and his friends at school.  Our congregation loved Chuck just as much as we did.  

    Family vacations were always fun.   A trip to Niagara Falls, New York was so enjoyable.   His parents decided they would like to see the Canadian side.  They went to the border patrol and asked if they could cross the border with just their license and their two children.  As they were talking to the gentlemen, Chuck went through the gate leading to Canada and could not get back through.  He was now in Canada while his parents and sister were on the other side of the gate in New York.  Our poor Chuck panicked because the gate had stopped, and he couldn’t get to his family.   His mother looked at him with an aching heart because he was so scared.  But the border patrol man, left his post and brought Chuck back through to them.  It was scary at the time for him, but later in life we all laughed about it. 

    Another rescue for Chuck was on their vacation in Williamsburg.   He decided he would place his head through the banister in the Hotel lobby.  Stuck and afraid, we did retrieve his head through the post.   The rest of the vacation went well.  But for sure, we all kept out eyes out for our little adventurer.   

     One saying we used with Chuck throughout his whole life was, “brush my teeth.”   Before bed we would tell Chuck to go upstairs and brush his teeth.  He would go upstairs, and a moment later would come down and ask, “what was I supposed to do?”  This happened numerous times throughout his childhood that the phrase stuck whenever he forgot something he was supposed to do.  So, our answer to him when he had a question about what needed to be done, we said “brush my teeth.”   Even now, that phrase will never be lost on us when we reminisce about Chuck.

    Oh how he liked spearamenting, as he called it.  We would find him in his bathroom mixing up concoctions of shaving cream, toothpaste, mouth wash, and anything else he could find in the bathroom along with his mother’s makeup.  At the time, as all parents dream, we thought maybe he would be some kind of scientist.  He said he was going to be a spearamentor.  

     Another thing Chuck was really good at was dancing, (he gets that from his mom).  She would not only love to watch him do his dance moves but would join in.  They would dance together from early on in his life and forever after.    

    Forgiving is a word that comes to mind when his mother thinks of Chuck.  If they were out together running errands or shopping and someone would cut his mom off in traffic, or a salesperson would be rude, or someone didn’t hold the door for them;  his mom would start to complain and all Chuck could say was : ”Mom, you don’t know what kind of day they are having,  so just forgive and move on.”  What a lesson we can all learn from this.   We do not know what kind of days Chuck was having. For the most part, he always seemed happy, he was always kind, and was an anchor to his mother in her life.  We must move on from anger, hate, and revenge:  remember we don’t know what people are suffering from in their lives.  Be kind, be forgiving, be loving.

     Chuck has said to his father that he got a lot of his cues from him throughout the years.  This was a huge compliment to his father because Chuck was a reflective part of him.  It makes him very proud.

     At one point in Chuck’s early years, he was on punishment as all children go through.  He wasn’t allowed to watch TV, no cell phone, and wasn’t allowed outside except for school.  His father decided to pull out some board games he thought he might be interested in.  He was still abiding by his restrictions but his dad didn’t like seeing him down in the dumps.  Ron taught him to play chess and Stratego as well.  He really enjoyed both.  Later on in life when he was older, they both would stay up until 3-4 in the morning having some drinks and playing these 2 games.  Both were very competitive, so after one of them would lose….the other would say, “Just one more game.”  This would happen until the drinks ran dry or they were just too tired to go on.   They really bonded during these moments and tried to solve world peace and other very interesting topics.  While he was home here on leave from the Navy, the tradition was done one more time.  It was a wonderful night of both games, some whiskey, and bonding again.  A night his father will remember forever.

     Jeopardy and Wheel-of-Fortune was an every night occurrence with son and father.  While Jeopardy humbled them, Wheel-of Fortune made them laugh most of the time.  If they both knew the answer to the puzzle, and when the contestants couldn’t figure it out, they would yell at the TV the correct answer and start laughing.  Everyone can figure it out when you’re sitting on the couch, Right?

     While Chuck and his father were at a beer tasting night at State Line Liquors, they met the owner and brew master of the Fordham and Dominion brewery located in Dover.  They befriended each other immediately.  He told Chuck and Ron about an annual event he had at the brewery called Cheesetoberfest.    Like an Octoberfest but this involved different restaurants competing who made the best Mac & Cheese with the patrons voting for who would win.  There were several craft beer stations throughout the brewery’s property also.  Now who doesn’t like that combination?  The first time there Ron, Chuck, Amy, and Andrew.  The owner saw Ron and Chuck and gave our little group a private tour.  We must of made a good impression on him from meeting him prior, well Chuck that is probably gave the good impression.   This event turned into a yearly tradition, with our group getting larger each year. Chuck really enjoyed himself with friends and family at this event.  It was always a “hoot!”

     Before Chuck joined the Navy, he worked for a Global Medical company using his engineering degree.  It was a good paying job and he learned his commitments very quickly.  His last year of working for this company, he was also trained in a specific process that only 2 employees were chosen for, one was Chuck.  But this was also difficult since they would make Chuck work every Saturday…working 6 days a week for a year can be challenging.  Though Chuck mentioned to his boss they needed to train more people for this area of expertise, it fell upon deaf ears. In the meantime, Chuck had been doing an annual charity 5K run for several years, which fell on a Saturday.   He told his boss he couldn’t miss this event.  Chuck politely asked for this certain Saturday off to do his charity run.  His boss told him no!  His boss told Chuck to pick between his job or his charity.   Chuck picked up his belongings and quit.  They were shocked because Chuck had been moving up in the company.  This really hit home with Chuck’s feelings of Corporate America and how they treated their employees.  Though Sally and Ron were shocked at first, they realized what an awesome man Chuck had become.  It showed Chuck’s thoughts on a sense of morality, his personal values in life, his moral conduct, and his integrity of being a genuinely good person.  

     Chuck, Chuckie, Chuckles, Charles.  A brother with many names whom I’m going to miss dearly.  We were best friends growing up.  My little partner in crime when we were little.  So many memories rush through my head when I think of him.  We were best buddies when we were little.  My mom loved to remind us of that when we would dance around the living room to Wee-Sing videos.  I would do something silly and Chuck would take his paci out of his mouth (which I’m sure he had until he was 5), laugh at me hysterically, then put the paci right back in his mouth.  

      Chuck also didn’t speak very much when he was young, but that was OK because I would speak for him.  We would do many other things together as we grew up.  I remember when we were both really into Power Rangers.  Chuck was the Red Ranger and I was the Pink Ranger, which were the best ones of course.  We would run around the house pretending we were fighting bad guys yelling “power up” and it’s Morphing time !  We both had the White Ranger’s saba sword with the tiger head on top that would talk.  We thought that was the coolest thing ever.

     Chuck and I were both into dinosaurs as well.  I think we had every dinosaur toy on the planet.  When Jurassic Park came out, we had the whole collection too.  We even went to see the Jurassic Park exhibit at the Franklin Institute.

We both loved Nintendo.   Super Nintendo at first, but then when Nintendo 64 came out that was a game changer.  Staying up late playing Mario Kart, Super Smash brothers, and Mario Party, those were the best.  We even played those same games the week he was back from Japan and I loved every minute of it.  We had such a fun day together.

      As my mother mentioned, Chuck gave us lots of laughs throughout the years, though not on purpose all the time.    One memory that I’ll never forget is when me, Chuck, and my mom were at the kitchen table.  She was helping him with his Social Studies homework.  One question asked was, “What is the most famous whale in Literature?”  Chuck had written down Shamu.   My mom and I were on the floor crying laughing.  Of course, the answer was Moby Dick, but to Chuck , Shamu was the most famous whale in history.  I don’t think I will ever laugh that  hard again in my life.

     As we got older, we would play basketball in our driveway together, watch Harry Potter, and eventually hang out at the bars together with our friends.  I’m really going to miss doing all those things with him, but I’m glad I have such wonderful memories.

     I could go on but I won’t.  I just want to end with I loved my brother so much and I’m really going to miss him.

     Chuck joined the Navy 2 ½ years ago.  We went out to see him graduate boot camp in 2019.  He was thinner but seemed to like the Navy.  Off to A and C school in San Diego to learn to be a sonar technician which he loved.  He met many friends there and would send us pictures of side trips and adventures they would go on.  He then left for Japan to join the USS Benfold team.  It so happened COVID hit and he and his Navy friends were on lockdown most of the time.  In the past year his ship was on deployment for about 70% of the year.  Chuck was a sonar technician and told us he liked it and had learned a lot.  Many of his Navy family were shocked to hear about Chuck.  His Navy friends have reached out stating he was always happy to lend a helping hand.  He was someone they looked up to and hoped to be like Chuck.  Commander Seeger from the USS Benfold called and told us that Chuck was a natural leader, had strength and courage, was a mentor to so many, and deeply loved by all.  His chief, Adam Bentley, stated Chuck always worked hard.  He knew if he gave Chuck a task to do, he wouldn’t have to ask Chuck twice because Chuck would always have it done.  He was chosen by his chief, to go out to San Diego to school. Chuck told us it was PUSH THE BUTTON school.  We were like what??  Actually, it was Fire Control school to be able to learn to launch weapons if we were ever in war.  Chief Bentley stated that this was an extremely important position.  Chuck would be sitting next to the Captain of the Benfold, and assist in launching a missile attack.  If the Captain had to leave his post for any reason, they would trust Chuck to do the calculations and launch anti-attack warfare on his own.  We are so very proud of our sailor.  How well he did in the Navy.   We are proud of the man who chose to defend his country.  

   We would like to thank all his Navy friends, his chief, his captain, and his Commander for reaching out to us.  For befriended our son and for loving him.  His shipmates have lived with him for the past 2 years in close quarters.  I am sure they all got to know him quite well.  WE are sure there are plenty of stories they have about Chuck. Stories to keep in their hearts.  We thank so many of his fellow sailors for reaching out to us with heartfelt condolences, it has meant the world to us. And also  apparently Chuck would draw frogs on their white boards to try and make them happy.  We have heard some of the sailors got tattoos of this frog.  That is so awesome and kind that they want to remember Chuck forever.  We were also told that they were having a memorial service for Chuck on his ship.  We find this amazing and comforting.  WE cannot thank the Navy enough for considering our family as their family.   May God bless all these sailors for their service and for protecting our country.   Thank you Benfold for loving our son.

      We would also like to thank Danni, his girlfriend over in Japan for the past year.  For cooking for him, for always checking up on him, for sharing adventures with him.  Mostly we thank you Danni for loving and caring for our son.  He was blessed to have you in his life.  We are very grateful to you.

     We especially thank everyone who played a part in our son’s life.  And we are sure you are so happy he played a part in your life.  

       Sally, Ron, Amy, and Andrew would like to thank everyone for all their love, prayers, and support.  

Thank all of you for the food, gift baskets, flowers, cards, texts, phone calls, visits to our home to check on us, and prayers.  A special thanks to the search party, who took off time from their work and busy day to help find Chuck.  We are saddened to have found him in that condition; a burden was lifted, but the sorrow continues.

     The family feels very blessed to have such kind, caring, and loving family, friends, neighbors, and church congregation.   We give thanks to our Lord for all of you.  How blessed we feel.   May you all continue your life with a little bit of Chuck in it.  Remember to laugh, to love, to be kind, to be supportive of one another, to give a helping hand, to help others in need just like Chuck did.

     We didn’t know what Chuck was experiencing in his head.  Whether he was depressed, anxious, or fearful.  He hid it so well.  Never mentioning the pain he was suffering from.  WE all wish we he would of mentioned something to us or asked us for help,  but he  just smiled and went on with life.   We do know he is at peace now in our Savior, Jesus Christ’s arms.  No longer suffering.  He is at peace.  

“Come to Me all you who are weary and burden and I will give you rest.”

Charles “Chuck” Edward Burcham, 30, of Newark, Delaware passed away on March 29, 2022.

Chuck attended Paul M. Hodgson Vocational Technical High School and graduated Delaware

Technical Community College with an associate degree in Mechanical Engineering.

He received his 1 st degree Black Belt at the age of 14 in one of the oldest traditions of karate,

Okinawa Shorin-Ryu, with his father.

Chuck’s other passion was playing basketball. He started playing in local leagues at the age of

5. He continued playing throughout high school in A.A.U. leagues. He was even fortunate

enough to be selected for the “People to People” International program and represented the

United States in a tournament in Amsterdam. Outside of basketball and bowling, he enjoyed

fishing with his father, Harry Potter and Nintendo with his sister, and cuddling with his mother.

He enlisted in the NAVY 2 ½ years ago and trained to be a sonar technician (STG3), where he

operated surface sonar and other oceanographic systems to collect, analyze, and interpret data

for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). He served on the Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer ship USS

Benfold, based in Japan. Beyond the love for his family and friends, his NAVY family meant the

world to him.

Chuck will be missed deeply by everyone who knew him. His bright personality and infectious

laugh made everyone he met feel loved.

Chuck is survived by his parents, Sally and Ron Burcham, his sister, Amy Pfeifer and brother-in-

law, Andrew Pfeifer.

Resting Place: Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery 

Burcham Charles USN