Cangemi Gets Called Back for Service


Billy Reno, Staff Writer

Determined, strong-willed, and brave: these are only a few adjectives to describe the Ludlow High School teacher, Charles Cangemi, who reenlisted into the military this past spring.

“It’s always been in the back of my mind.” He says, “I’ve done 15 years and I only needed 5 more years to get that magic number of 20 to be able to collect a retirement.”

The English teacher flew to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, for retraining. He will work in the Command Post at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee.

Cangemi started his military career in 1987 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school. He said he “lacked direction” as a youth and was looking for some stability.

“I wasn’t a bad kid, I didn’t do bad things. I was just looking for some discipline in my life. I just needed to get away from it all,” he said. “My grades weren’t the best and we had no money, so college just didn’t seem like an option.”

After serving four years in the Marines, including a combat tour during the Gulf War, he returned to Western Massachusetts to go to college.

He joined the Air National Guard immediately after separating from the Marines.

“I already qualified for the G.I. Bill so I was collecting a monthly check to go to college. By joining the Air National Guard I was able to go to any state school tuition-free. I ended up graduating from the UMass with a bachelor’s degree in communication.”

After transferring to the Air Force Reserve for a job in public relations, Cangemi stayed as a reservist until 2002. “I got out because I wanted to focus on my teaching career and continue to go to school,” he said.

He became an English teacher at Ludlow High School in 2004. Then, last winter he received a message that changed his life.

“I was contacted through Facebook by somebody who I worked with at Westover. He asked me if I would be interested in returning,” Cangemi said.

It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. He left his family and flew down to Mississippi for six weeks so he could be re-trained. He was originally supposed to go for 7 weeks but he graduated early. To complete his remaining 5 years he needs to continue his duties “one weekend every month and two weeks in the summer” and he couldn’t be happier to be back.

“I missed my family and everybody at LHS,” he said.