RIP Major Armstrong

Note: It has recently come to the attention of the blog that the near-mythical Major Armstrong, of the famous Armstrong Pull-up Program, was a real historical figure, and of course, a Marine, as the legend claims. He died this summer in Texas from cancer. His career spanned from 1966 all the way until 1991, and the pull-up record was his at one time. The following is from the University of Texas NROTC alumni newsletter this fall:

In Memoriam
Charles L. “Chuck” Armstrong (MOI ’80-’82)

Major Charles Lewis Armstrong

Major Charles Lewis Armstrong

Charles L. Armstrong, LTCOL USMC (Ret) passed away quietly in his sleep early on the morning of August 14, 2011 in his Trophy Club, TX home from recently diagnosed brain cancer. Chuck, a native Texan, graduated from High School in Paris, TX in 1966, where he was an All-State coronet player.
Upon graduation he enlisted in the Marine Corps, with the expressed intent of serving a combat tour in Vietnam. He eventually did that after graduating East Texas State University and receiving his commission as a 2ndLT. While studying, Armstrong managed and coached at the Paris Karate School, Texas Karate Institute (Dallas) and East Texas State University, where he was a nationally ranked competition fighter and Co-Captain of the school’s competition team. Choosing to remain in the Marine Corps until 1991, Chuck’s career involved him in four shooting wars across 22 foreign countries. He held the posts of Marine Officer Instructor (MOI) at UT, Head of Regular Marine Officer Procurement, U.S. Naval Attaché in El Salvador, G3 of Marine Forces Central Command in Riyadh, as well as others. He was Commanding Officer of units as large as 650 and Chief Operations Officer of units as large as 7,000 and received over 40 decorations, medals, and citations, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Medal, and Purple Heart.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, LTCOL Armstrong completed the executive MBA program at SMU’s Cox School of Business and went on to work in various executive positions in companies ranging from start-ups to “Fortune 500” before making three returns to combat zones as a civilian. These included Egypt, Lebanon, and, most recently, the Anbar Province of Iraq. Throughout this period, he wrote dozens of articles published in books, periodicals, and professional journals, such as The Marine Corps Gazette, one of which won the Wilcox Award for professional writing. In recent years he enjoyed mentoring several military, retiring military, and graduating MBAs. In addition to competing in numerous karate tournaments, Chuck, a lifelong fitness enthusiast, has run marathons and on two occasions set the world record for the most pull-ups completed in a single session, performing 1,435 repetitions in under five hours during his second attempt. He was a certified parachutist and scuba diver, and an avid weight lifter. He was also fluent in Spanish and enjoyed using the language on a nearly daily basis for the latter twenty years of his life. Armstrong is survived by his wife Marlys, his son Jason, his sister Jane Harper, his wolf Ringo, and countless friends scattered in every corner of the world.

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  1. Yeah am not sure I remember my memory isn’t as sharp as before. But one thing i do remember. Was that Norfolk marine barracks was a serious experience for me. It kind of set my up for the rest of my life. The Hines that I remember was spit and polish . He was about 6 feet tall and had a country accent . And was from the south like North Carolina or Alabama . One of those states. And be the was I don’t have a face book because of security problem that consist on those public media outlets networks .

    • Guys, check out as a great way to get in touch with other veterans. Simple social media platform for exactly this purpose–founded by Marines and without the risks of facebook, etc.

  2. My name is Luis Santiago . I serve under captain Armstrong at the time . In the marine barracks Norfolk Virginia . From 1976 to the ending of my enlistment . I for one new him as the moral person that he was. He instill in me a kind of pride that only true leaders have the ability to do. He was a great leader and a marines marine. He truly lead by example . Am sadden to here that after all these years. That I for one decided to go down memory lane. And hear of the circumstances that befell this great marine . Who in fact was true to form when you mention a legend and bigger then life character . I had just turn 17 when our paths cross. But the edelible impression he instill . Follows me throughout my life . He’s going to be miss not only in the marine community . But warriors who new him. And work or train with him. It was by chance that I decided to look him up . Only because anyone will tell you that at the age of seventeen . Being Hispanic and not having a father figure at that age . He made me understand a sense pride as a marine and as a person . That I too. To this day will never forget . To the Armstrong family I salute you for having the privilege of being grace by such a great person and an awesome human being. And for being in the company of greatness. . In the word of the great satini. Recognize when your surrounded by greatness . It enhance your life in ways that you will see and admonish in the near future.

    • Luis Santiago. I served with you and Cptn. Armstrong at Norfolk. Do you remember me? Himes at AUW. I went by Tony but my first name is Lee. Lee Himes Look me up on facebook. I have 8 friends from Norfolk. Jon Martin, Jon Robinson, Kenny Boyd, Perry Vaught, Vincent Incardona, Michael Guerrero, Andy Palko, Daniel Kennedy. Benjamin Agimaua (Coconut) died very recently too…. Like six months ago.

  3. I am glad to hear that he had a good and fulfilling life.
    My regards to his family, friends and those who came in contact with him.
    I know that he will continue to influence the lives of many people for many more years.

  4. my name is Rick Easterwood. Recently, I was just mulling over some of the people and events that had influenced my life when I remembered my previous neighbor, friend, karate instructor, and role model…Mr. Charles Armstrong. I deceided to do a little looking to see if I could locate Charles and sadly found that he was deceased. I am saddened to hear of this and would just like to let his family know how deeply Charles impacted my life. He was a man of great courage and integrity, not to mention one tuff as nails guy. I continued my karate training after Charles left Paris, Texas to join the Marines. I went on to open several of my own karate schools and obtained the rank of 2nd degree black belt. I became a career police officer and am still active in that field (36 years). Things that Charles taught me have helped to keep me alive numerous times during my service and I went on to teach many others the same things that Charles taught to me. This man helped to shape my entire life and I am proud and honored to have had the opportunity to meet with and study under this great man.

    • Absolutely incredible story, Rick! You are lucky to meet him. So sorry you found out that he is deceased, but he definitely lived life to the fullest and was an example to many.