Chief Warrant Officer Robert William Channell Jr.

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Title

Chief Warrant Officer Robert William Channell Jr.

Subject

Iraq War, 2003-2011
United States. Marine Corps

Description

CWO Robert W. Channell Jr. was killed on April 22, 2003, while serving with the 1st Marine Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment in Iraq. CWO Channell was the husband of Joyce and the father of Bethany. CWO Channell was a native of Tuscaloosa and a graduate of Brookwood High School.

A photo of CWO Channell's grave can be found at this site: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/11228499/robert-william-channell.

More information on the death of CWO Channell can be found at this site: http://thefallen.militarytimes.com/marine-chief-warrant-officer-2-robert-w-channell-jr/256643.

Source

Find A Grave

Date

April 24, 2003
February 6, 2006

Contributor

Tuscaloosa Public Library

Identifier

2292

Coverage

Tuscaloosa (AL)

Text

The following is the text from page 4B of the Tuscaloosa News, February 6, 2006, displayed as part of this entry:
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"It wasn't planned. It just happened that way," Joyce said, calling the meeting love at first sight. She said his smile and personality - he was a "people magnet" drew her to him. They started dating right away and were inseparable after that.

"We just liked being together," she said. "It didn't matter where we were. And my family adored him."

They married on May 11, 1986, and he joined the U.S. Marine Corps on May 19 that same year.

"The night I met him, he said he wanted to be a Marine," Joyce said. "And he loved being a Marine. I wouldn't have taken that away from him for anything in the world."

Rob's mother, Eva Sutton of Gordo, said her son always wanted to be a Marine. His father had been a Marine and often talked to their only son about his experiences.

Sutton said her son, who has two older sisters, also was very competitive, playing baseball and football as a teenager.

"But he could beat adults playing checkers by the time he was 5," Sutton said. "nobody could understand how somebody as young as he was could do that."

She had taught him to play while he was in the hospital for reconstructive surgery after being badly burned when a trash fire exploded in his face when he was almost 3. They were in and out of hospitals for about three years and had a lot of spare time.

"He was beating me by the time he was 4 and then started beating other players who were better than me."

She said the surgeries didn't slow down the active child. She would drift off to sleep and be awakened to go get Rob out of the hospital's hallways.

"It wore me out but didn't slow him down a bit," she said, laughing.

"That's what amazes me about him," Joyce said, referring to the accident and the scars it left on Rob. "He didn't let it stop him from having a normal childhood. It never held him back from anything. For the most part, it built his character and made him who he was.

"Once you met and talked to Rob, there were no scars there. You remembered the person. I forgot he had a scar."

Sutton said her son was a charmer even as little boy. "Whenever he'd get in trouble, he could always charm his way out of it," she said.

Twelve years after Rob and Joyce married, their daughter, Bethany was born while they were stationed in Okinawa, Japan.

"We wanted to wait to have children, because we were so young," Joyce said. "We didn't exactly mean to wait 12 years, but she came at a perfect time. We were ready to be parents, and our lives revolved around her. If I had to say what Rob's life dream was, it was to be a daddy. That was his happiest time."

Bethany, now 7, was about a month shy of turning 5 when her father was killed. She told her mother she wanted people to know some things about her father.

"She wanted everybody to know that her daddy laughed a lot, colored with her and watched cartoons with her," Joyce said. "They did everything together. If he was working on his boat, Bethany was right there with him. If he was working on his truck, there she was with her little plastic tools."

She said Bethany even watched sports with her father, who was a big University of Alabama fan.

"She'd fall asleep on his chest watching sports," Joyce said. "She's just like her daddy - has his personality. She's full of energy, has a good sense of humor and likes having fun."

Of the many things Joyce misses about Rob, she said she misses his laughter the most.

"Rob couldn't sit still when he started laughing. And to see him so animated would make you laugh at that. He was so much fun to be around."

He was also her biggest supporter, next to her own mother, about furthering her education. "We had always planned for me to go back to school and get my master's in social work," she said. "I was accepted in the program this past fall. He was the one who inspired me to keep going - he would be proud."

And he'd especially be proud that she's going to UA, where he intended to go after retiring from the Marines. Joyce and Bethany moved back to the Tuscaloosa area from North Carolina after he was killed.

"My family is here and Rob's family is here. I wanted to keep Bethany close to family," she said.

"Rob was proud to be from Alabama and proud to be from Tuscaloosa," Sutton said. "And he was very family oriented. He always wanted us to get together with all the family. All the nieces and nephews really looked up to him."

The last time Joyce talked to her husband was the weekend before he was killed on a Tuesday. His mother had sent him some copies of The Tuscaloosa News, and he had clipped out a story about a soldier from Mobile, Army Pfc. Howard Johnson II. He had been killed the month before, the same day a fellow Marine from Rob's unit had died.

"You could tell it hit home for him. You could hear his voice crack as he talked," Joyce said. "He never knew (Johnson), but it was another man from Alabama. He said he mailed me the article - I've never known him to clip out anything from the paper - and wanted me to keep it."

She told Rob that she had heard on the news that the soldier's father was going to conduct the funeral.

"He said the father must be a strong man. He was very touched by that," Joyce said. She still has the article.

She received another surprise right around her daughter's birthday that year, a month after Rob died. A postal worker knocked on her door on a Sunday with a letter for Bethany from Rob. Because he had included some Skittles, her favorite candy, in the letter, it had not been processed as free mail and had been marked to be returned. But the man delivering the letter had figured out what happened.

"He said he knew if he sent it back, we may not ever get it," Joyce said. "To me, it was like a birthday present for Bethany. In his letters to her, he always said how much he loved her and to be a good girl and listen to Mommy.

"I read the letter to her and told her to eat the candy. Daddy would have wanted her to."

Joyce, who still has a hard time talking about her husband without getting choked up, said she is grateful she met her husband so early in life.

"I wish I could have had him on this earth a lot longer," she said. "I was so blessed to have had him in my life as many years as I did."

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