|Born||July 23, 1926|
|Died||June 22, 2014 (aged 87)|
|Service/||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1943–1945|
|Rank||Private first class|
|Unit||Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards|| Bronze Star Medal with |
Charles William Tatum (July 23, 1926 – June 22, 2014) was an American World War II veteran, bronze star recipient, race car driver and builder. On February 19, 1945, he was among the first wave of Marines to land on the Japanese island stronghold of Iwo Jima.
Tatum's war memoir, Red Blood, Black Sand, was one of five books used as source material for the Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks produced HBO miniseries The Pacific. Tatum is portrayed in the series by actor Ben Esler.
Tatum enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 17. He became a machine gunner and was sent to the newly activated 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California in 1944. There he became acquainted during training (and on Iwo Jima) with Medal of Honor recipient, Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone ("Manila John"), a machine gun section leader who was killed in action the first day on Iwo Jima and awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.
Tatum was sent for further training with the 5th division at Camp Tarawa near Hilo, Hawaii, which was preparing for the assault and capture of Iwo Jima. He was a member of Baker ("B") Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.
On February 19, 1945 (D-Day), his battalion (Landing Team 1-27) disembarked and landed on "Red Beach 2", on the southeast side of Iwo Jima, off of landing boats from the attack transport, USS Hansford (APA-106 ), with orders to, "land, seize, and occupy Iwo Jima" ("Island X").
Tatum landed with the 1st wave of white faced (anti-flash cream) Marine infantry and their attached Navy medical corpsmen off of LVTs (amtracs; amphibian tractors) from LST #10 that they had boarded February 11 when the USS Hansford stopped at Saipan. "Red Beach 2", a 550-yard landing zone, was about 800 yards across from Motoyama Airfield #1, which in turn was 1,500 yards north of Mount Suribachi on the south end of Iwo Jima. "Red Beach 2" was one of the seven color named and numbered landing zones that combined were two miles long on the east side of Iwo Jima.
Tatum was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V" for saving a Marine buddy, Steve Evanson, during fighting at Hill 362 on Iwo Jima (Evanson nevertheless died the next day). Tatum was subsequently wounded in action and evacuated from the island.
Tatum became a successful race car driver and builder after the war. His son, Blake Tatum, drove a Crusader that was manufactured by his father's company to become the 1994 Formula Vee West Coast Regional Champion.
Tatum was active in Marine affairs and was twice the president of the Stockton Marine Corps Club in California. In 1995, he arranged a memorial service in Washington D.C. in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Iwo Jima.
- Legends of the 5th Marine Division Archived 16 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine from the 5th Marine Division website. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Pace, Harold (2004). "Crusader". Vintage American Road Racing Cars 1950–1969. MotorBooks International. p. 54. ISBN 0-7603-1783-6.
- Lori Gilbert. "From Stockton to Iwo Jima and back". Recordnet.com. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
- Burkin, Christian; Kirk Barron (14 March 2010). "Chuck Tatum: Stockton to the Marines (video)". Recordnet.com. Retrieved 12 July 2010.