Charles Frederick Gerstacker
Born: July 4, 1920
Hometown: Cleveland, OH
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: October 4, 1944 / U.S. Merchant
Marine Cadet Basic School, San Mateo, CA
Date / Place of burial: October 1944 / Cleveland, Ohio
Charles F. Gerstacker drowned during swimming training in the pool at the San Mateo Basic School at 1130 on October 4,1944. Gerstacker apparently became incapacitated while in the water, but his distress went unnoticed. His death was not discovered until the other 46 men of his section mustered on the pool deck upon completion of the class. After the investigation of his death his remains were returned to Cleveland, Ohio, for burial.
Charles was the younger of Oliver John and Mary Nelson Gerstacker’s two sons.William, Charles brother, was seven years older than Charles. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates that Oliver Gerstacker was a draftsman for an oil exploration company. Charles’ mother, Mary, died in December 1936 when he was sixteen. In the 1940 U.S. Census Charles’ occupation is identified as draftsman for a Cleveland manufacturing company while his father is identified as Chief Engineer for another firm.
Cadet-Midshipman Gerstacker had been at San Mateo just three months. Based on
the amount of time he had been at San Mateo, it appears that Charles Gerstacker
reported to the San Mateo Basic School on or around his 24th birthday.
Charles Gerstacker is described on his U.S. Coast Guard records as being 5′ 7″ tall, blond hair, grey eyes, fair complexion and weighing 145 pounds.