Galveston native Charles J. Sabatier will be honored in a Memorial Day ceremony at the Vietnam Memorial located at Moody Gardens. Sabatier, a Specialist in the United States Army will be enshrined as the 76th man to be killed in action during the Vietnam War from Galveston County. A Purple Heart recipient and tireless advocate for people with disabilities, Sabatier was honored in Washington May 8, 2011 when his name was added to the National Vietnam Memorial Wall. This addition was made “official” during the 2011 Annual Memorial Day Ceremony at The Wall when Sabatier’s name was read aloud with the addition of four other soldiers.
A 1964 graduate of Ball High School in Galveston, he attended college at Sam Houston State University prior to being drafted into the Army in 1966. In 1968, during the first TET Offensive, an intense North Vietnamese military campaign, Sabatier was pinned down in heavy crossfire when he heard the call of another soldier. Running across the swampy battlefield to help, he felt a bullet enter his back. The bullet severed his spinal cord. He returned from Vietnam paralyzed from the waist down. The barriers he encountered served as a motivation to dedicate his career with his wife Peggy Griffin to work for the dignity of people with disabilities.
Sabatier’s work became national in scope as Assistant Advocacy Director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. He then became the organization’s Advocacy Director. Sabatier served as Assistant Director for the Massachusetts Office of Handicapped Affairs. He also worked as Executive Director/Commissioner for the Mayors Commission for Persons with Disabilities in Boston. He served in a number of other roles to help those with disabilities including the Paralyzed Veterans of America where he served as President of a Texas Chapter and Executive Director for the New England Paralyzed Veterans of America.
According to officials and family, Sabatier died directly from his combat injuries on June 11, 2009 at age 63. He was enrolled on the National Vietnam Wall Memorial in 2011 with four other soldiers. His memory will be celebrated at Moody Gardens at May 28 at 10:30 a.m. with a dedication ceremony at10:30 a.m. His widow, Peggy Griffin, will be a featured speaker at the event. Friends, family, Ball High School 1964 classmates and citizens who wish to honor his sacrifice are invited to attend the event as Sabatier is welcomed home.
"It took Charlie five years to come back to Galveston after he was paralyzed. He was afraid of what people would think of him now that he used a wheelchair,” said Peggy Griffin. “I think he would be humbled if he could see what was being done for him today. I know I am."
For more information call 800-582-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org.
Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.