Clarence Wayne "Chuck" Otterman was born in Traer, Iowa on
October 17, 1919. His family lived on a farm when he was born, but later
moved to the city where his dad managed a Skelly gasoline station. Even though he grew up during the depression, he remembers having a normal, happy childhood - the only exception was the illness of his mother who died when he was 17 years old.
Chuck worked at the grocery store when he was in the seventh grade for 50 cents per day. One of his favorite chores as a young boy was helping his uncle mow the graveyard - using push mowers.
He was very athletic while in high school and received a scholarship to go to college, but decided to join the Navy instead. He had a good friend in
the Navy and this is what influenced him to join. He went in on October 4, 1939 and was sent to the Navy Training Station Office in Great Lakes, Illinois where he was in boot camp.
After boot camp, he requested assignment on the battleship USS Arizona. He traveled cross-country by train to California where he boarded the ship - his new home for the next two years. On December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona had been docked in Pearl Harbor for a few days and Chuck was cleaning up getting the area ready for church services on the fantail of the ship when he looked up and saw planes flying. He recognized a symbol on their wings and knew they were Japanese planes. By that time the bombs were already falling. He ran down to the #4 turret to wake up some of the men. By the time they came back up on deck, the ship was engulfed in flames. A bomb had hit the mid section and the ship broke in half. It had blown up in a instant. They were ordered to abandon ship. The water around the ship was on fire where oil had been spilled. After abandoning ship, Chuck and a friend got a motor launch from Ford Island and brought it back to pick up survivors. They saved several, but many died in the burning water. Three days after the bombing, Chuck was assigned to burial detail, where they respectfully buried their fellow sailors who did not survive. (They also buried three Japanese pilots who had been shot down.) Soon after that, he was assigned to the USS Whitney where he served for several months. Then, he was sent to Washington to gunnery school after which he was sent to Orange, Texas where he joined the crew of a destroyer, the USS Murray.
While Chuck was in Orange, he met and married Dorothy Ruth Christian. Their daughters are, Margaret Jeane, Lois Lamerle, Donna Ruth and Dana Jo.
After the war, Chuck finished out his enlistment time and got out of the Navy. He was a civilian for two years then decided to reenlist. He wanted to go back into the Navy, but could not get his chief gunners mate rank because the need was not there. The Army offered him a good deal, so he joined the Army where he served until he retired as a Sgt. Major after a total of 20 years in the service.
After retirement from the service, he settled in East Texas where his wife was born and grew up. He was hired as a policeman with the Center, Texas Police Department. He also worked for a major chicken plant in the area. After working there for a while, he went back into law enforcement and later held the position of Chief of Police of Center. After serving several years as Chief, he decided to quit and take life easy. But, he was requested to take the position of City Judge of Center where he worked for about two years and resigned. Then, he was appointed to finish a term for the Justice of Peace for Precinct 2 at Shelbyville, Texas. After the term was over, he retired to his farm in the Clever Creek Community,