First Lieutenant Charles Yaghoobian, Jr., United States Marine Corps, was a native of Pawtucket, Rhode Island and a 1961 graduate of Tolman High School. He was an excellent scholar and athlete. Charlie entered the University of Rhode Island with the Class of 1965 and enrolled in the Army ROTC program. While at URI, he played on the Soccer Team and was a member of the Phi Mu Delta Fraternity. He served as treasurer of the class during his sophomore and junior years. He received the Distinguished Infantry Award presented by the 385th Regiment in his senior year.
In 1965, Charlie Yaghoobian graduated from URI with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. Upon graduation from URI, he attended the University of Bridgeport and received a Master’s Degree in 1966. During this period, he requested and was granted permission to transfer his U.S. Army commission to the U.S. Marine Corps. He continued to teach school in the Pawtucket, RI school system until he was called to active duty and completed Officer Infantry Training at the US Marine Corps Training Center, Quantico, Virginia.
First Lieutenant Yaghoobian departed for the Republic of Vietnam in October 1967. He was assigned as a Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, G Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division in the North Vietnamese infested Province. During the early morning hours of 14 October 1967, the North Vietnamese Army fired approximately 25 artillery rounds, rockets, and over 125 mortar rounds at his Marine company position. The artillery and mortar barrage was followed by a superior enemy ground force attack on their position. The Marines took the enemy under direct fire supported by two Marine tanks and mortar fire. The enemy withdrew, leaving their dead behind; but they were far from finished.
Later that evening, enemy mortars again shelled G Company. Direct hits by enemy rocket propelled grenades destroyed a key machine gun emplacement and several backup defensive positions on the primary avenue of approach into Lieutenant Yaghoobian’s company. The enemy force attacked through this break and overran the company command post. Fierce hand-to-hand combat ensued as the Marines attempted to repel the enemy attack before it could reach the battalion command post. It was during this fighting that Lieutenant Yaghoobian fought alongside other Marines until he, the other three officers and eleven Marines of G Company were mortally wounded.
As a direct result of his and his fellow Marines gallant stand in face of an overwhelming force, the enemy was not able to reach other Marines and the battalion command post. The enemy was driven off by counter-attacking air and ground forces. Lieutenant Charles Yaghoobian was declared “Killed in Action” on 14 October 1967.
For his actions, Lieutenant Yaghoobian was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal. His conspicuous gallantry in action was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and reflected great credit upon himself, his family and the University of Rhode Island.
The family of Lieutenant Yaghoobian and the Rhode Island Armenian Community, supported by the Sports Scholarship Committee of Saints Sahag and Mesrob Armenian Apostolic Church in Providence has established the First Lieutenant Charles Yaghoobian, Jr. Scholarship Award. The scholarships recognize Rhode Island scholar/athletics of Armenian decent each year at their Annual Sports Banquet in memory and in honor of First Lieutenant Yaghoobian.
First Lieutenant Charles Yaghoobian, Jr. was buried with full military honors at Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, Rhode Island. He is also remembered on Panel 28E, Row 6 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.