Charles Edward Creek Jr., a retired Army intelligence analyst, paratrooper and Vietnam War veteran, died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease April 1 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 74.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Carroll Street in Southwest Baltimore, he was the son of Charles Edward Creek Sr., a tractor-trailer driver, and Ellamae Malinda Lewis Creek, a parochial church secretary. Known as Junior, he was an altar boy at St. Monica's Roman Catholic Church and was active in its Boy Scout troop. He attended Wendell Phillips School No. 117, the Booker T. Washington Junior High and Frederick Douglass High before graduating from Southern High School in 1959. He was on the wrestling and lacrosse teams at Southern.
As a teen he worked for Blind Industries, which ran a convenience store at the Social Security Administration offices in the Candler Building.
"Early on he developed a keen interest in the military and gathered other boys in the neighborhood to form a club called the Junior Marines," said his sister, Virginia C. Creek of Baltimore. "My brother was in charge and marched the boys through the neighborhood practicing drills. They also camped out in the backyard and at Carroll Park. We always believed he would become a Marine one day."
Mr. Creek enlisted in the Army in October 1959. He served three years and was assigned to Hawaii. When discharged he returned to Baltimore and became a correctional officer at the Maryland State Penitentiary.
"Chuck loved foreign cars and during this time at home he first drove an English Ford and later a black convertible Austin Healy with red interior," his sister said. "He also moved into his first apartment on Eutaw Place. It was about the size of a matchbox. Civilian life just wasn't for him and he re-enlisted after two years."
She described him as a "a proud, patriotic career soldier who served 30 years and had duty stations virtually everywhere in the world." He had assignments in Vietnam, Fort Meade, Fort Holabird, Okinawa, Thailand, Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Fort Hood in Texas, Korea, Munich and Fort Bragg in North Carolina.
At Fort Bragg, he completed paratrooper training and became a member of the 82nd Airborne. His sister said that when she asked him, "Why jump from an airplane?" he replied, "That's what you're supposed to do."
He volunteered and served two tours in Vietnam during the war, receiving the Vietnam Service Medal with five Service Stars.
"The experience haunted him for the rest of his life. He never spoke of it," his sister said.
He was also an intelligence analyst for the 66th Military Intelligence Command.
Mr. Creek received awards and citations for sharp-shooting. He was a pistol expert, a first-class gunner and a large motor vehicle driver. He retired in 1991.
In retirement, Mr. Creek was active in the USO and the Vietnam Veterans Chapter No. 451 at Fort Holabird. He marched in the annual Catonsville July Fourth Parade and was a sergeant on honor guard burial details.
After leaving the military, Mr. Creek operated the Turkey Farm, a Lexington Market stall, selling sandwiches and take-out dinners, with his wife, Christina Lui.
Mr. Creek built and painted model planes, trains and automobiles.
"Lead soldiers were his passion," his sister said. "He would spend hours assembling and painting each small soldier."
He also collected GI Joes, hats, pins and patches from around the world. He also enjoyed jazz, rock 'n' roll, and country and western music.
"He was a fair and honest man who greatly loved his family, the Army and his country," his sister said.
Services will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the March West Funeral Home, 4300 Wabash Ave.
In addition to his sister, survivors include two daughters, Treeva L. Creek-Morrow and Brandy M. Creek, both of Baltimore; two other sisters, Patricia E. Lewis of Sykesville and Regina E. Ravenell of Owings Mills; two stepsons, George C. Forrest and Damond S. Forrest, both of Baltimore; and 11 grandchildren. His marriages to Johnetta "Joyce" K. Hicks and Christina Lui ended in divorce.