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Resident at Morning Pointe of Greenbriar Cove enjoyed career as aeronautical engineer

photo of Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb, a resident at Morning Pointe of Greenbriar Cove in Ooltewah, Tennessee, has a career that has contributed to American aeronautical history.

Born in March 1935, in Chattahoochee, Florida, Charles was the son of a carpenter. He had one brother, and the family moved to Collegedale, Tennessee, when Charles was 6.

In 1954, Charles joined the Army and entered the Whitecoats, along with two of his friends. The Whitecoats were volunteers who allowed the Army to do medical research and experiments on them.

“It’s really you’re a guinea pig because they give you exposure to different things,” Charles explained. “I took Q fever. They gave me the antibody before, so I didn’t even get sick. But you’ve got to spend six weeks away from everybody. They watch you every day, take blood, and everything.”

After completing his assignment in the Whitecoats, Charles led calisthenics classes for the patients at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

Charles served for two years in the Army and then went on to get a degree in aeronautical engineering from Indiana Tech in Fort Wayne, thanks to the GI Bill.

photo of Charles with one of the aircraft he built
Charles with one of the aircraft he built

“I’ve loved airplanes ever since I was born,” Charles said.

With his degree in hand, Charles moved to Florida to work on the LGM-30 Minuteman, an intercontinental ballistic missile.

When the company wanted to send Charles to Salt Lake City, he decided he wanted to stay in Florida, and he got a job with McDonnell Douglas. He worked on the Apollo program and the Saturn 5 rocket at Cape Canaveral.

Charles shared about that time, “You appreciate things after it’s all over. You first think it’s a job, but it’s really more than a job.”

While he was working at Cape Canaveral, Charles also got in enough flight hours to earn his commercial pilot’s license.

When McDonnell Douglas downsized, Charles got a job with Pratt & Whitney, an aircraft manufacturer, in West Palm Beach, Florida. He made jet engines for the F-15 Eagle fighter plane, which is still in use. Although he never got to fly or ride in an F-15, he did build and fly some of his own airplanes.

Charles came back to Tennessee to work as a design engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for about 10 years. He worked on the centrifuge until he retired in 2017. He moved into one of the independent living homes down the road from Morning Pointe of Greenbriar Cove.

photo of Charles and his two sons
Charles and his two sons

In his personal life, Charles has two sons, Mike and Doug, who are both pilots as well. He has one grandchild, one great-grandchild and one more on the way.

Charles came to Morning Pointe of Greenbriar Cove in 2022 after he fell and broke a hip.

“I like the activities and the people,” Charles said about his experience at Morning Pointe. “Everybody’s very friendly.”

Oddly enough, his life has come full circle as he enjoys the community’s morning exercise program, led by Michaela Rawdon, Life Enrichment Director. It’s not that different from the calisthenics that Charles used to lead at Walter Reed.

“When I was at Walter Reed, I didn’t realize it, but I was doing the same thing Michaela is doing,” he commented.

As Charles looks back on his life, he shares that he has enjoyed his career and is most proud of learning how to fly.

Thank you, Charles, for your service to our country and for your contributions to aeronautical history. We are glad to have you as part of our Morning Pointe family!

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