On June 15, 2023 Capt Charles Edward Rousseau, 86, slipped the surly bonds of earth and died peacefully at home in the presence of loving, devoted family.
Born in Piqua, Ohio, his family moved to Tupelo Mississippi when he was a young boy where he grew up with lifelong schoolmates including Elvis Presley. He graduated from Tupelo HS in 1955. Completing undergraduate education at University of Mississippi in 1959, he entered flight training at the United States Naval Flight School at NAS, Pensacola, FL earning the prestigious Naval Aviator “Wings of Gold” in May, 1961.
Charles saw action during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis prior to his transfer to a jet fighter squadron aboard the carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt for two tours of duty in the Mediterranean. Following a stint with the Blue Angels precision flying team, he served as a flight instructor at NAS, Jacksonville, FL where one of his trainee pilots was Lt. John McCain III.
In 1968 Capt Rousseau was assigned to a fighter squadron aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard and served two tours of combat duty in flight operations during the Viet Nam War. As pilot of an A4 Skyhawk he flew 308 combat missions over enemy territory and completed 708 successful carrier landings.
Returning from flight service in Southeast Asia, Capt Rousseau was honorably discharged from regular Naval duty in 1971 upon the death of his father and entered the Naval Reserves. He served at Millington Air Station in Memphis and then saw duty as Commanding Officer of the Bessemer, Alabama NATO wing. He retired from the Reserves in 1991 after a combined Naval service totaling 30 years.
He was awarded two Navy Commendation Medals with Combat “V”, the Air Medal with 18 strike/flight awards, Viet Nam Meritorious Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Viet Nam Campaign Medal with 6 stars, Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry, and Viet Nam Service Medal with device.
He was an avid and accomplished marksman. While serving as a flight instructor, he was named team captain of the All-Navy Skeet Shooting Team. He and his team went on to take first place honors in both the American and International levels of the All Services Competition. He shot his way to first place honors in 12-gauge skeet competitions with several perfect 200x200 scores. His best performance came with a 400x400 international score.
From 1971 until 1998 he was in private business with Lucky Star Industries of Baldwyn, MS after which time he moved to Pickwick Lake, TN to spend his active retirement years playing golf with his many friends, traveling with wife Christi, hunting, and fanatically following the athletics of his beloved Ole Miss Rebels.
During retirement, Captain Rousseau stayed connected with the Navy by serving as a Blue and Gold Officer for the United States Naval Academy. He was responsible for interviewing, scoring, and recommending area Naval Academy applicants who went on to attend and graduate from the Academy and serve our country honorably.
An earlier marriage to Kay Kuhn ended in divorce but afforded the joy of his only son, Jon Charles Rousseau. In 1987 he wed Christi Carmack (Rockett), the beginning of an unbreakable union that lasted for 36 years until Capt Rousseau’s death.
He was a parishioner of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church and an active member of The Shiloh Falls Community and golf club.
Captain Rousseau was preceded in death by his parents Charles Louis and Helen McKenny Rousseau, and brother Robert Louis Rousseau.
In addition to his wife Christi, he is survived by son Jon Charles Rousseau (Danea, Dakota and Canyon), sister Marylyn Joyce Giben (Larry “Bo”), and grandchildren who adopted him Jacob Louis Rousseau and Helen Reed Rousseau. Nephews and nieces are Christopher Louis Rousseau (Rhonda), William Derek Rousseau, Jessica Kristina Rousseau, Brad Gibens (Meg), Leighton Gibens (Julie), Eric Gibens (Betsy), and Leslie Gibens Burks (Greg).
A Catholic Funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Counce, TN on Wednesday, June 21st at 3:00 PM. A celebration of life will immediately follow at The Club at Pickwick located in the Shiloh Falls community. Burial will occur at a later date at Barrancas National Cemetery, Pensacola NAS, Pensacola, FL. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
“Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew-
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God. "