Reflections: Chayne Stinemetz

Kenji Hobbs

20 July 2021

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Reflections: Chayne Stinemetz

Two men in a field.

Chayne Stinemetz


Chateau Retirement’s “Reflections” series highlights the rich life experiences of our residents. 


I grew up in the southern part of Washington state. My father died when I was nine months old and I lived with my mom and my grandfather who provided parenting and paternal protection. My grandfather and his family emigrated from southern Germany in 1877 to avoid military service during the Franco Prussian War. They homesteaded in Western Kansas contributing to the growth of the U.S.


I spent my early years in Vancouver, Washington and graduated from Vancouver High School in 1945, the last year of WWII. At age seventeen I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I was an enlisted man for six years stationed in California and Marine Barracks: Bangor, Washington and as a reservist participating in the commissioning program at the University of Washington. In 1951, I was called to active duty, headed for the Korean War as a lieutenant serving as an infantry platoon leader and as a company commander in North Carolina and the Caribbean and Mediterranean Seas.


For the next twenty-six years, with the major assistance of my wife, Wilma, our family served in a variety of jobs in California, two years aboard an aircraft carrier (with two deployments to the Far East and Southern Asia), the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Marine Barracks: Newport, R.I. and three years in SE Asia: Vietnam and Thailand. My last assignments were at Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C. and as District Director with headquarters in Treasure Island, California.


In Vietnam, I was a battalion commander, a career highlight. As a Marine, you groom yourself for combat and experience trauma daily. I spent a year, 1967-1968 in Vietnam, and had not been back till 2007 when at the age of eighty, my wife LaRae and I accompanied a Marine Corps tourist group to Vietnam. Once there we picked up a local Vietnamese guide. He took us to a Command Post area where a battle had taken place during the war. The guide introduced me to a Vietnamese farmer. I asked him what he did during the war and he said he had been a Viet Cong Lieutenant. I was looking in the face of a man whose countrymen I went half a world away to fight in combat. This man had been our enemy. I had a big responsibility during the war and there was no time to get a feel for the people. Here we were among the Vietnamese people, walked close to them, looked in their faces, spoke to them and witnessed how hard they worked. We went from enemies to friends, despite the irritating fact that the eighty year old former enemy had a big crop of black hair.


In 1990, LaRae’s husband, Mort and my wife, Wilma died of cancer after forty years of marriage. Through a mutual friend, I had played tennis with LaRae’s husband, Mort. After my wife Wilma died the same mutual friend introduced me to LaRae. Marriage followed.


Mutual interests kicked in including tennis, volleyball, coed senior softball and travel. A combination of parsimony and adventurism resulted in a two-man tent camping throughout the world. Aside from the normal tourist spots, trips were made to such exotic places as the Falkland Islands, central Africa, North Vietnam, the Cook Islands, Dubai, and Burma, among many others. We visited all fifty states and we crossed the North American continent at least twenty times. The tent still exists!


The home town Seattle girl and the Marine flourished. Our combined families live throughout the globe and consist of seven children, twenty grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren.


Chateau Retirement Communities are based in the Seattle, WA area. Chateau Retirement offers Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care living options. Contact us today to learn more about our family owned and operated communities, or schedule a tour.