Chuck Rahe is an American hero who is a special part of the Wichita Falls YMCA family. This former Navy Seal has been a submariner in the Atlantic, a Quartermaster on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Ocean, a member of the elite Underwater Demolition Team, and a “River Rat” in Vietnam. He has proudly served his country in peacetime and wartime operations.
Chuck grew up on the East Coast in a very poor family with 11 kids. Family hardships led him to live in a Lutheran home from age 6-13. When he was old enough he enlisted in the Army. He worked as a diesel mechanic and was a part of the National Guard, helping keep peace at riots.
At heart, Chuck wanted to be part of the Navy. He loved the Navy’s traditions. He was comfortable around water as he had grown up around it, and he said the uniforms were nicer than the Army – “women liked them better.” In 1970 he joined the Navy and served for 16 years.
During those years Chuck served his country around the globe, from the Arctic Circle to Granada. He has been in combat in Vietnam, Beirut, and Iran. In Vietnam, Chuck’s duty station was a 31' river patrol boat. His unit was assigned to patrol rivers in South Vietnam that were vital to transporting supplies and weapons. During this duty he regularly encountered communist forces who sought to kill his comrades and him. These were difficult years as Chuck says “your mind takes a photo static picture of certain scenes.” Years later, those memories have caused Chuck to suffer flashbacks and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Chuck was honorably discharged from the Navy and is extremely grateful to the VA for helping him find treatment and medication for his PTSD. Staying on an even keel is a daily challenge for Chuck and the YMCA has positively impacted his life in a huge way. Chuck arrives at the Wichita Falls Downtown Y daily with a smile and a work ethic which is likely similar to his “get it done” days in the Navy. He works out diligently in the weight room for a minimum of two hours daily to relieve stress. The Y has helped Chuck turn a disability into a blessing. He has become Mental Health First Aid certified and proudly leads a PTSD group at the Helen Farabee Center as a Military Veterans Peer Network facilitator. In fact, Chuck goes to Faith Mission once a month to reach out to veterans who would benefit from being part of the group.
Chuck is a Christian and he says "sometimes that's hard to live up to," but his giving attitude and cheerful disposition speak volumes about who he is. He says his faith is the base of “light” in his life. “It can change your heart if you want to be changed.”
He has a son, daughter, and granddaughter who live in Vernon, TX. His face lights up when he speaks of his granddaughter, Lillyana. “She was only 4.1 pounds when she was born and I stayed with her in the hospital until she was strong enough to go home.” He’s confident he can teach her about life and Christianity. One would think some of those lessons would include hard work, persistence, and joy. Chuck is a special part of the Wichita Falls YMCA family!