Life in his hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey, was nearly perfect for teenager Charles Natter. The popular student at Atlantic City High School was captain of both the swim team and the football squad, and he always seemed to make a splash with the opposite sex. “We were young guys chasing girls and thinking about girls,” said his close friend John Stinson.1
On most summer days, Natter headed to his lifeguard post at the city’s beaches, where he never hesitated to charge into the surf to wrest a swimmer from the ocean’s pull. The high school student was known to ignore every hazard to rescue someone in need.
One day after his 24 June 1943 graduation, Natter joined the Navy. He wrote to his parents from the Bainbridge Training Station in Maryland: “I just saw our next week’s schedule of musts and boy we are going to have another busy week a fifteen-mile hike and a lot of other stuff. That’s only the musts the rest of the time we drill and drill.”2
1. Author’s interview with John Stinson, 5 August 2010.
2. Charles Natter letters to his family from Bainbridge Training Center, no day or month, 1943, Charles W. Natter Collection.
3. Charles Natter letter to his family, 21 July 1943, Charles W. Natter Collection; The Bluejacket’s Manual (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, various editions), 821, 823.
4. Charles Natter letter to his family, 11 February 1944, Charles W. Natter Collection.
5. R. W. Copeland to the Secretary of the Navy, “Combined Action Report, Surface Engagement off Samar, Philippine Islands, and Report of Loss of U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413), on 25 October 1944,” 14, Record Group 38, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD.
6. Author’s interview with Thomas Stevenson, 16 October 2000.
7. Charles F. Natter letter to Charles W. Natter, 6 November 1944, Charles W. Natter Collection.
8. “Navy Department Communique No. 564,” 17 November 1944, William Butterworth Collection; “U. S. Navy Department’s Detailed Account of the Second Sea Battle of the Philippines, The New York Times, 18 November 1944; “Small U.S. Craft Went Down in Blazing Battle with Jap Battleships, Cruisers,” The Philadelphia Record, 18 November 1944, Charles W. Natter Collection; Lewis Wood, “Pacific Risks Cut,” The New York Times, 18 November 1944.
9. Western Union telegram to Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Natter, 19 November 1944, Charles W. Natter Collection.
10. R. W. Copeland letter to Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Natter, 20 March 1945, Charles W. Natter Collection.
11. Author’s interview with Alyce Roppelt Lewis, 21 July 2010; Joseph Altman, mayor of Atlantic City, letter to Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Natter, 20 November 1944, Charles W. Natter Collection.
12. Charles Natter letter to William Natter, 21 November 1944, in the Charles W. Natter Collection.
13. Copeland letter to Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Natter, 20 March 1945.