Monday, February 23, 2015

Charles Pambookian, Iwo Jima, and The Boston Symphony

2/23/45 Raising Flag Iwo Jima - Photo credit: Joe Rosenthal, Assoc. Press
This month is the anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February - 26 March 1945), one of the bloodiest battles in World War II.  Marash Girl's knowledge of this battle is dim, but the aftermath of the battle in the person of her uncle, Charlie Pambookian, was real.  Uncle Charlie, a tall, handsome man, was always humble, always quiet.  He walked with a slight limp.  When Marash Girl asked, he said the limp was caused by shrapnel in his leg, shrapnel incurred during the Battle of Iwo Jima, World War Two.  He enlisted as a member of the United States Marines during World War II.  He and his company were the first to land on the island of Iwo Jima, and as he was immediately wounded, he was taken off the island.  Most of the rest of his company never survived. Uncle Charlie told Marash Girl that for years after that, he would sit in the back row of Symphony Hall whenever they had their rehearsals.  Just sit there and listen to the music.  It was the only way he had to deal with what today we know as PTSD and survivor's guilt.  He was born in Newton, Massachusetts, son of Marash Girl's grandmother's sister, Mary Kurtgusian Pambookian and her husband Jack (Hagop) Pambookian, both survivors of the Armenian Genocide from Marash.  Uncle Charlie grew up in Newtonville, Massachusetts, living most of his life on Albemarle Road, and attended Newton Public Schools. Charles Pambookian (born on August 26, 1924)  passed away at his summer home in   S. Harpswell, Maine, in August of 1987 at the age of 63. Uncle Charlie, we admire you! We love you! We miss you!


  1. There is much more to the story. He was my hero, as well, as was he the hero of his younger brother, Harry.

  2. I remember Mommy always trying to arrange a match between Charlie and Arax. It would have been perfect! But it never happened . . .

  3. Whenever we needed to move something large, we used to always borrow Uncle Charlie's station wagon -- he never refused us -- perhaps that's why Marash Girl has never owned anything but a station wagon . . . although no one's ever asked to borrow it to move anything!