Major General Charles Baldwin

Rated Air Force Pilot and Chief of Chaplains

by Melissa LaScaleia

Charles C. Baldwin was born on April 7, 1947, and is a native of New Haven, Connecticut. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and graduated in 1969. He is also a graduate of Air War College. After his pilot training, he was assigned as an EC-21 pilot to the 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing at McClellan Air Force Base, in California. He completed further training, this time as a helicopter pilot, at Fort Rucker, Alabama. During the Vietnam War, those skills were put to use and he was sent to South Vietnam where he flew combat missions as an HH-53 helicopter rescue pilot.

In 1974, he returned to civilian life and went to graduate school, earning his master of divinity degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He then began a career as a Baptist minister. Five years later, he returned to the Air Force to serve as a Protestant Chaplain— a career track he would follow for the rest of his life, to great acclaim.

From June 1989 to 1992, he served as the Senior Installation Chaplain at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. He accompanied the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing when that unit deployed to King Fahad International Airport in Saudi Arabia, during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, to serve as their Chaplain as well.

In his career, Charles served in many illustrious positions: as Senior Protestant Chaplain for the United States Air Force Academy; Staff Officer in the Office of Command Chaplain at the Headquarters, United States Air Forces in Europe; Staff Officer, Office of the Chief of Chaplain, Headquarters, United States Air Force; Commandant, United States Air Force Chaplain Service Institute at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; and Command Chaplain, Air Education and Training Command, at Randolph Air Base, in Texas.

In June 2004, he was appointed his most prestigious position— that of the United States Air Force Chief of Chaplains. As such, he led an Air Force Chaplain Service of 2,200 Chaplains and Chaplain assistants. During this time, he was appointed the rank of Major General. He also served as a member of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board in which he and other military service chaplains advise the Secretary of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff on religious, ethical and quality of life concerns.

His awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster; the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster; the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster; the Bronze Star Medal; the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters; and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Charles was and is still the only Air Force Chief of Chaplains to have been a rated air force pilot. He retired July1, 2008 as a U.S. Air Force Major General. 

You can find the plaque commemorating his accomplishments at the intersection of Pampas Drive and Mallard Lake Drive, in the Market Common.

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