Charles William Monaghan

1937 - 2020

Vietnam War

Their Story

Charles William Monaghan was born to Laurel and Dorothy on August 27, 1937, in Clinton, Iowa.1 He was baptized into the Lutheran Church at Zion Lutheran Church in Clinton on October 10, 1937.2 He attended Clinton schools and graduated from Clinton High School in 1955. He then went to the University of Iowa and studied commerce or business. He graduated from there in 1959. From what the public can find, Monaghan was an only child. We don’t know if he played any sports or competed in any way for Clinton schools. We don’t know if he was employed anywhere during his school years. But we do know that his father, Laurel, worked as an insurance salesman.3

A few months after graduating college, Monaghan enlisted in the United States Navy, possibly as an officer since he had a college degree.4 He enlisted in September of 1959. At this time, the United States was not at war. The Korean War had ended a few years before Monaghan enlisted, and the Vietnam War had not yet begun. During Monaghan’s 22.5 years of service, which included the Vietnam War, he served on six warships and was the commander of a destroyer; a powerful and quick ship that is used to defend other ships. His service was not exclusive to serving on the seas, however. He did three “tours” of duty on land: one at Iowa State University as a leader of their Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which allows for students to train as military officers while in school; he served as an exchange officer with the British Royal Navy, which means that he and an office with England’s Navy switched positions and helped the other country’s Navy; and he also worked at the United States Embassy in Pakistan, which is a county in Asia.5

Charles Monaghan retired from the Navy on November 1, 1981, at the age of 44. It is unknown what he did after the military, and it is also unknown if he had a family or moved to different areas of the country after his military service. But by serving as a commander, there is no need to look for honor and service any farther into his life. Monaghan was the embodiment of service, which is portrayed through his 22.5 years of service in the United States Navy. For his service, Monaghan was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal. Both of these mean that the recipient and his service is thought of very highly.6

We can look at Charles William Monaghan and, though his battles and details of service are unknown, know that he helped protect America and her values all over the world. He had an immense impact in others’ lives, from his time as commander, to his time working with college students. We can and should remember him and his service, and never take it for granted.


1 Iowa, U.S., Births (series) 1880-1904, 1921-1944 and Delayed Births (series), 1856-1940 –

2 U.S., Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Church Records, 1781-1969 –

3 1940 United States Federal Census –; 1950 United States Federal Census –

4 U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 –

5 Charles William Monaghan (1937-2020) – Find a Grave Memorial

6 Charles William Monaghan’s memorial page – Honor Veterans Legacies at VLM (