SPFHS Remembers Charles James Orrico, class of 1948

We Remember Charles James Orrico, class of 1948!


    September 2, 1930 - June 12, 2022

    Colonel Charles James Orrico (USAF, Ret) passed away peacefully at the age of 91. He lived in Springfield, VA for 52 years and originally hailed from Fanwood, NJ. He is survived by his devoted wife of 69 years, Janelle Marchant Orrico; eldest brother, Frank Orrico (Helen) of Gillette, NJ; daughters, Cheryl Moss (Ray) of Richmond, VA and Kris Clark (Dick) of Houston, TX; son, Chuck Orrico (Donna) of Houston, TX; grandchildren, Krissy Watson (Joe) of Richmond, VA, Brandon Moss (Lindsay) of Concord, NC, Sam Clark (Melody) of Hawthorne, CA, Alex Clark (Aimee) of Norfolk, VA, Jordan Huerta (Eddie), Charlie Orrico, and Madeleine Orrico, all three of Houston, TX; and 10 great-grandchildren: Garrett, Gavin, Allie, Katharine, Griffin, Isabella, Rafael, Lucy, Maggie, and Frankie, ages 12 years to 2 months, respectively. He is preceded in death by his parents, Sam and Josie Orrico, and his older brother, Sab Orrico (Lil).

    Charlie graduated from Fanwood-Scotch Plains High School in 1948 and was known as “Unforgettable Charlie,” an avid athlete and the lad with a jolly grin, keen sense of humor, and snappy comebacks. He went on to Florida Southern College, where he studied for three years before being selected as an aviation cadet in the United States Air Force. It was at Florida Southern where Charlie met his beautiful bride-to-be, Janelle Marchant.  

    After successful completion of advanced pilot training and being commissioned as a second lieutenant, he was transferred to Randolph Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX where he subsequently married Janelle in 1953. 

    Charlie’s next assignment was with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) at Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah GA. He was stationed there for nearly 10 years and flew more than 1500 hours all over the world in the B-50 and the B-47 and was promoted to Command Pilot in the B-47. 

    In 1962, Charlie was subsequently assigned to SAC Headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska. During his time at Offutt, Charlie completed his bachelor’s degree from the University of Omaha. 

    Over the course of his flying career, he flew the T-6, B-25, B-50, A-47, C-47, T-29, and T-39 with the majority of his hours in the B-47 Stratojet. 

    After serving in SAC for five years, Charlie was then assigned to the Pentagon in the Joint Chiefs of Staff and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. During his time at the Pentagon Charlie received his Master of Science degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. 

    In 1969 he was assigned to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam where he spent twelve months overseeing the automation of a tactical air command and control system. 

    Charlie served again at the Pentagon in 1970 as Chief, World Wide Military Command and Control System, where he was then promoted to the rank of Colonel.  

    He retired in 1979 after almost 28 years of military service. His honors include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medals, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

    Charlie’s second career was with the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) Headquarters, where he served as Director of Chapter Affairs for 10 years.

    Charlie was rooted in a lifetime of connections and friends and spent over 45 years perfecting his golf game at Springfield Golf & Country Club. If he wasn’t on the course, he was always contributing his time, wisdom and experience with various committees helping to improve the club’s operations. Charlie’s cooking skills were also in high demand with a local restaurant and it was not uncommon to see him in the kitchen teaching the staff how to make his popular Italian sauces. Charlie was also quite the entertainer and storyteller. His unique musical talent on the banjo and accordion, still adorned with his Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity letters, instilled joy and happiness during family gatherings. He was a self taught carpenter and built several pieces of furniture for the family home. He was the ultimate gardener, taking pride in his pristine lawn, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and azaleas that were replanted from his own father’s garden. 

    Charlie was always a welcoming host and loved to serve his bar stool guests with stocked shelves, and a “What can I getcha?” The littlest in the family will tell you he “invented” the Shirley Temple. He was a task-master and a planner, always wanting to know what time one could be expected. He was a meticulous master of the kitchen, demonstrating how food made with love is always “just nice.” He valued hard work, exemplified commitment and tenacity, but most of all, he loved and was very proud of and devoted to his family. The deliverer of holiday blessings and toasts, he would ultimately raise his glass with teary eyes and say, “Golly, would you look at this, it’s just beautiful!”

    In Charlie’s own words, “The beat goes on…” 

    Charlie will be laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. 

    In lieu of usual remembrances, donations in his memory can be made to the Walter Reed Society. https://www.walterreedsociety.org/donate/default.aspx