Fellow soldiers remember 'gentle giant' who died in Las Vegas shooting
By DREW BROOKS | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. | Published: October 4, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (Tribune News Service) — A former 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper turned Las Vegas police officer was among the victims in a deadly Las Vegas shooting.
Charleston Hartfield, 34, was one of the at least 59 people killed Sunday night after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd at a country music festival.
Hartfield was a sergeant first class in the Nevada National Guard, officials in Nevada said. He joined the Guard in 2004.
Prior to moving to Nevada, Hartfield spent four years on active duty, serving most of it with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. Hartfield deployed to Iraq with the brigade in 2003 and returned in 2004.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division said Hartfield would be "an All American paratrooper for life."
"He and his family remain part of our legacy even in death," said Lt. Col. Joe Buccino. "By all accounts he was a special human being, someone who carried the best virtues and characteristics from this division with him beyond his service here."
Known as Charles or “ChuckyHart,” Hartfield was a youth football coach, husband, father of two and an author — he recently published a book titled “Memoirs of a Public Servant.”
A description of the book on Amazon says it is “Documenting the thoughts, feelings, and interactions of one police officer in the busiest and brightest city in the world, Las Vegas. This memoir takes you through the personal interactions experienced by a police officer with not only the community he seeks to serve but with his partners and their personalities. Some calls are over in an instant while others stick with you forever. Take a sneak peek into this Pandora's box and see if perception really is reality.”
According to the Nevada National Guard, Hartfield was a first sergeant with the 100th Quartermaster Company and previously taught combatives as part of state guard’s 421st Regional Training Institute.
Soldiers with the Nevada Guard described the 6-foot-4 Hartfield as a “gentle giant.”
“The biggest thing that sticks out from him, besides his enormous size, as tough as he was, that man was all love,” said Master Sgt. Lemuel Iniguez, a Nevada Army National Guard recruiter who led an Army combatives class with Hartfield for eight years. “He would do anything for his soldiers, if they needed it, without question, without fail. He was that kind of a soldier. If you were a good troop or needed help, he’d do anything for you.”
“He was the kind of soldier you wanted to deploy with,” added Sgt. 1st Class Pak Castillo, a Nevada National Guard personnel sergeant. “He was the type of soldier you wanted to work with, but would also like to hang out with outside of work. He was a great man.”
Hartfield made an instant impression on the Nevada National Guard when he joined in 2004.
An article from a Nevada Guard magazine released in January 2013 said Hartfield helped build the state’s combatives program based, in part, on his experiences in the 82nd Airborne Division.
“His maroon beret and spit-shined boots were part of what got him in the door,” the article read.
When the Nevada National Guard held its first combatives tournament in 2012, Hartfield was one of the first champions crowned, representing the heavyweight division.
The Nevada National Guard held a memorial for Hartfield at the North Las Vegas Readiness Center on Tuesday, officials said. A vigil also was held Monday at Ed Fountain Park in Las Vegas.
The Nevada National Guard’s highest-ranking officer, Brig. Gen. William Burks, praised Hartfield during the memorial.
“Charleston Hartfield lived to serve the public and protect his family, he is the epitome of a citizen-soldier,” said Burks, the state adjutant general.
The Route 91 Harvest Festival was a three-day event for country music fans. On his Facebook page, Hartfield had posted about the festival, displaying a banner from the event prominently.
Las Vegas police have identified Stephen Paddock, 64, as the gunman who opened fire from the nearby Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Paddock killed dozens and injured more than 500 others before killing himself.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Drew Brooks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org