Editor's note: This is the first of two parts.
Cold War era - 1947 to 1991 was a sustained state of political and military tension between the Western Bloc dominated by the United States with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization among its allies and powers of the Eastern Bloc along with the Warsaw Pact. It began with the success of their war-time alliance against Nazi Germany leaving the United States and the Soviet Union as superpowers. The Cold War ended on Dec. 25, 1991, with the dissolving of the USSR.
Charles A. Triaga, U.S. Army
Territorial Area of Responsibility - Ayers Kaserne, Kirch-Gons, Germany.
Specialist, fourth class - machine gunner, 30-caliber tank mount; machine gunner, 50-caliber tank mount; M-1911 .45-caliber pistol; U.S. Army issued M-1 carbine rifle
M-48 tank - A medium-size tank, the third in its class designed by Gen. George S. Patton. Its design made the tank easier to maneuver between tree lines and hedge rows. Its fire power included a 90 mm cannon and twin 30-caliber machine guns first introduced in 1953 made by the Chrysler Corp.
M-60 tank large tank design - First tank to be armed with a 105mm cannon. It was a first generation main battle tank, introduced in 1960. It stayed in Army arsenal until 1997. This tank was designed for the Cold War though not one round was fired against the enemy in a cold war confrontation, then later seen action in Vietnam mainly in the central highlands and along the demilitarized zone as base camp protection armor.
Track driver - A military vehicle made to transport wounded, materials and foot soldiers in areas covered with snow and unpassable areas. The vehicle was moved by two front tires controlled by a steering wheel and the two back wheels were moved using the track design used on all tanks.
Married - March 3, 1962, to Jaye (Alaimo) in St. Anthony's Catholic parish in Fredonia. His bride was walked down to the altar and given away by her father Russell Alaimo. The maid of honor was Jaye's best friend Rita (Speziale) Farnham.
Children - Charles A. Triaga III, Cheryl A. Stauffer, Dr. Russell Triaga.
Grandchildren - Trey Stauffer, Casey Stauffer, Jason Stauffer, Taylor Stauffer, Tori Triaga, Charleigh Triaga, Jonathan Triaga, Hailey Triaga
Charles A. Triaga was born at his grandmother's home in Silver Creek on July 30, 1939. The family's homestead was actually 773 Park Ave., Dunkirk where Chuck grew up with his two brothers, Joseph and Samuel. Chuck's father Charles being a master mechanic, opened his own business in Dunkirk working on vehicles which included basic maintenance and, at times major repairs. Going to area junkyards to take out a used motor or transmission and swapping them was common work for mechanics those days. Chuck's mother, Rose (Castrogiovanni) worked at the Van Raalte Co. as a seamstress.
School came and with the other kids on the block, Chuck joined them in a short walk to Dunkirk's School 4. Here, he attended until grade five when he was relocated to Dunkirk's School 7 on Lake Shore Drive. Remembering his pre-middle school days, he recalled going to a movie on a Saturday afternoon was a treat. He remembered his dad giving him 26 cents. The movies were 16 cents and the remaining 10 cents was for a soda and candy.
Before he knew it, he was off to his first day of high school. School with the big kids was a different world for Chuck. Before he knew it, he was asked to pledge to the AKT fraternity, one of many fraternities at the school. He officially became a frat brother and spent most of his times at fraternity meetings just hanging around.
In high school, he enjoyed sports and excelled in each of the three sports he participated in. If anyone was looking for Chuck, also known as "The Trigger" in high school, one would find him shooting baskets at one of the many outside city basketball courts; or he would be running track at the athletic field track; or in the summer one might see him playing volleyball.
Friday night in winter time was where one could see Chuck excel in the sport he enjoyed the most - basketball! Given the nickname "Trigger" by the cheerleaders, Chuck was always there piling up points or scoring the winning basket as the clock hit zero on the giant scoreboard.
Being a sport standout, "Trigger" Triaga had a lot of friends who enjoyed being out with him. The large list included Rich Notte, Ted Peterson, Ted Monroe, James Polowy, Bob Ranus, Dan Sanek, Bill Meade, Dave Meyer and Mike Baer.
Having fun meant having money, so it was time for Chuck to find a job. He did work some with his father but finally landed his first job with Milo Middlestadt. His duties were shoe salesman and part-time clerk receiving minimum wage. He now could save some money for a car, and on the weekends have a few bucks when he went out with his friends.
At 17, while he was coming from school, Chuck saw a for sale sign in the window of his librarian's car. It was a 1941 Ford loaded with AM radio and running boards. To "Trigger" it was a steal at $300.
Cruising the streets of Dunkirk and Fredonia were now his pastime when he wasn't working or in school. Always a full car with Rich Notte, Ted Monroe and Ted Peterson, the foursome tacked up thousands of miles cruising Central Avenue and Point Gratiot looking at the pretty girls walking by. All this came to an end when one Sunday Chuck felt like Mario Andretti and knew his car could easily without any doubt win a trophy at the dragstrip at the Dunkirk Airport. As the sun set and they were handing out trophies, Chuck was watching his 1941 Ford being hooked up on tow truck with the car's rear end placed in the back on the wrecker's flatbed truck.
Having his high school diploma in his hand in 1957 and three high school letters for basketball, volleyball and track, Chuck knew he needed a better job. A break came when construction work with the Russell Frey Construction Co. was offered. His new job was a mason's helper, carrying bricks, blocks and mixing concrete. A year later, he found work at the Alco plant in Dunkirk where he worked as a clerk in the materials part's department. Here he worked until he decided it was his time to serve his country.
Next week: Part two.