Colonel Charles David McMillin, U.S. Army, Retired, died at his home in Virginia Beach on Wednesday, April 13. He was 76.
A towering intellect with a heart to match, he was often described as one that doesn’t suffer fools, but any fool could tell you, he suffered us just fine.
Loving husband to Marcie and beloved father to Jennifer and Dana, Colonel McMillin was known to his many friends as “David”, to his fellow Citadel alumni as “Blitz” and to his four doting grandchildren, as simply, “Papa”.
Born in Danville, IL he was the first child of Charles and Barbara McMillin, and brother to Xris, Jacqueline, and John. David was raised in a proud military family growing up in Okinawa and northern California before landing in Salisbury, MD where he was quarterback of his high school football team. Upon graduation in 1964 he attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. There he was assigned, by height, to Charlie Company where he forged lifelong friendships while honing leadership skills and a thirst for knowledge that became the cornerstones of his life.
After graduation in June 1968, David was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the U.S. Army Infantry and attended Airborne and Ranger Schools at Ft. Benning, GA before shipping out to Vietnam in August 1969. At Camp Eagle he was assigned to the 101st Airborne, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment as a rifle platoon leader for an 18-month combat tour.
On a nine-day rest and recuperation trip to Hong Kong, a stroke of fortune put him on the Star Ferry, where he met a beautiful young flight attendant, Marcia Pickler of Anaheim, California. The two fell head over heels and were married in January 1971. It was a love story that stretched for fifty-one years.
David had a most distinguished Army career. He served two assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC, and was selected as one of the initial officers to reconstitute the 2nd Ranger Battalion at Fort Lewis, WA. Following this tour, David was an exchange officer with the British Parachute Regiment in England, where he and Marcie represented the U.S. Army and America in outstanding fashion. Upon promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, David commanded the 1st Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment in Korea with service on the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Later, he played a significant role as the Executive Assistant to the Commander, Special Operations Command at MacDill AFB before returning to Fort Bragg, NC where he completed his career in XVIII Airborne Corps Operations.
Retiring with honors in 1995 as a Colonel of Infantry, David accepted a position in Suffolk, VA with Northrop Grumman as a senior level manager for the Defense contractor team supporting Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, VA. David also served as a guest instructor at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
In retirement, David and Marcie’s family expanded, adding two son-in-laws: Joel Geiger and Jeff Brick, and four grandchildren: Blaine, Ellora, Revelle, and Edward. A loving, smitten grandfather, David was a fixture in their lives. He attended sporting events and band recitals and demanded book reports from “assigned reading” (that he himself assigned). He cooked delicious meals on holidays and other days between. He comically improvised his way through a yearly rendition of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and hosted the family for annual beach vacations on the Isle of Palms, SC. During those long summer days, he would while away afternoons with a tome of military history under his nose, and in the evenings with gin and tonic in hand and Jimmy Buffet on the radio, he held court for all those lucky enough to be in his sway.
As a beautiful coda to a life spent in service, David’s eldest grandchild, Charles Blaine Geiger, followed his path to The Citadel where he is thriving. Seeing the school pride and traditions passed to a new generation brought David unfathomable joy, and he and Marcie returned often for home football games and to help shepherd Blaine through his first two years.
A celebration of life is planned this June with full burial honors to be bestowed at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to:
The Citadel Foundation
Class of ’68 Legacy Scholarship
In Memory of Col. Charles D. McMillin