Family StoryIndo ProfileMemoirMilitaryStoriesIndo Profile Charles Pieters

by Charles L. Pieters

Aloha, my name is Charles L. Pieters, and I was born in Alkmaar, Netherlands in the early sixties. I have one sister and a brother. My father left Batavia now called Jakarta, Indonesia, in 1957 to go to Netherlands and was settled by the Dutch government in a small town called Schoorl, Netherland, with my first Opa and Oma. My first Opa passed away a year later and my Oma remarried to my second Opa. I never met my first Opa on my dad side but remember my second Opa very well while I was in Netherlands. My Oma and second Opa finally moved to Alkmaar and settled there with my father and his six brothers and two sisters.

2021 Indo Charles Pieters - Great-Opa-Oma-Filon
Indo Charles Pieters' Great Opa and Oma Filon
Indo Charles Pieters - Great-Opa-and-Oma-Rijnders
Indo Charles Pieters' Great Opa and Oma Rijnders

My father met my mother, who is also an Indo, in Alkmaar where my brother, sister, and I were born. I still remember going to Catholic school where the nuns and teachers where extremely strict. We left Alkmaar in 1969 and settled in a town called Concord, California. When I came to the US, I did not speak or understand English at all but had a great teacher. I still speak and understand Dutch, but to read it or write, I have a difficult time. I use Google translation, lol!

2021 Indo Charles Pieters - Departing-Holland-Charles-Rene-Rosenda-1969
Indo Charles Pieters - Departing Holland-Charles, brother Rene, sister Rosenda in 1969

My parents’ divorced when I was young and my father raised my brother, sister, and me as a single parent. He was extremely strict but we always had his support and insured us that we always had a good life. My father taught me a lot as I was growing up. He always told me you must always do your best, son, in whatever you do; don’t disgrace our name; and be proud that you are Dutch Indonesian (Indo).

2021 Indo Charles Pieters - Command-Sergeant-Major 2010-Retirement-Ceremony-
Indo Charles Pieters - Command-Sergeant-Major in 2010 Retirement

After I graduated from high school, I joined the United States Army at age 17 for a two-year enlistment and was stationed in Germany. I went to Alkmaar every month to see my family in Alkmaar since it was only a four-hour train ride. It was so great seeing the family again and eating Indo food. I wanted to leave the Army as soon as my enlistment contract was over, but the Army and my father convinced me to reenlist. I started to go to some Army Leadership schools, traveled all over the world and started to like it, instilling leadership into my young life at the time. Well, what started as a two-year enlistment ended up being 31 years of active-duty military service, and I achieved the rank of Command Sergeant Major, which is the highest rank one can achieve as an enlisted soldier in the military.

2021 Indo Charles Pieters - Retirement-Ceremony
Indo Charles Pieters - Retirement Ceremony

When it came to my reenlistment in 1984 , I wanted to be stationed in Panama, but it was not available at the time. I was offered Hawaii and had to think about it for one day. I spoke to my father for his advice and guidance. I have never been to Hawaii and only heard about it being a very tourist destination. I decided to take an assignment at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. I have been here in Hawaii ever since and also was naturalized in Honolulu to be U.S. citizen in 1986.

2021 Indo Charles Pieters at Disney Resort
Indo Charles Pieters at Disney Resort

I retired at age 47 from the military in 2010 and started to work for Disney on the island of Oahu as a driver taking guests from Waikiki to the resort where I work. Disney found out I had some leadership skills and asked me to be a manager in 2012. Now, I am in a new role as a Planning Project Associate here at this awesome and beautiful resort called Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa and Support Disneyland in California.

I am living my dream by being in paradise, but I miss my Indo food. Life is good.

2021 Indo Charles Pieters - Mini-IM-INDO
Charles Pieters is proud to be an Indo, view of his Mini, IM INDO

I am proud to be an Indo!

Are you, like Charles Pieters, proud to be an Indo who would also like to share your story with The Indo Project? We welcome you to describe your journey. Submit your story!


  1. Thank you for your service. What a great story. I too left Indonesia in 1957 from Jakarta to South Africa where the ship needed repair, than to Amsterdam than finally had a house in Uithoorn, left Holland in 1960, mother could not get adjusted to Dutch weather and food. So we moved to Pasadena, California, my parents are now gone to Heaven, but they have told us very sad stories of the days of the Japanese concentration camps. Yes we are the last generation to have experienced the move from Indonesia to Holland than to the U.S. All my other families still live in Holland. And I still eat Indo food, the best food ever.

  2. Hi Charles,

    Your mother is a sister from my dad. His name is Victor Filon.
    His father was Louie Filon.
    I live with my husband in Georiga.

  3. FROM: Jan Weys

    Leuk om het verhaal van een Indische jongen geboren in Alkmaar te lezen van zijn koerier in the Us Army.
    Deze Indo is geboren in Tanah Ambungan, Borneo.
    Ik ben ook een SGM van de Us.Army, gepensioneerd in 1993 en woon nu in Florida. Het waren goede dertig plus jaren geweest.
    Jan Weys.

  4. Hey All,

    I’m also an Indo residing in Mililani, HI. I’ve been here since 1977 after being stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station, later joining the Hawaii Air National Guard at Hickam AFB, HI, making a dual career of 40 years of military service and 33 years of DoD Civil Service.
    My parents were born and raised in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and were resettled in Amsterdam in 1957 where I was born. Later our family moved to Rotterdam, Zuid Wijk, and lived in a housing project where many Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij (Dutch for Royal Packet Navigation Company), better known as KPM, resided.
    In 1962 our family also immigrated to Southern California and settled in North Long Beach. At that time many other Indos settled in the same area so there were always gatherings where Indonesian food was served. Especially at the Soos in Pasadena, CA, an Indo Club where monthly gatherings were a popular thing to do during that period of time. I think it was started by Tjalie Robinson and later run by Franz Cruetzburg’s father, Rene Cruetzburg. It really kept us connected to our Indo roots. But, eventually most Indos easily assimilated into the American way of life.
    In 1976, I graduated from Jordan High School in Long Beach and 6 days later I found myself in San Diego MCRD, training and serving the USMC and our adopted country, America. Afterwards while in the Marine Reserves in Hawaii, I proudly became a US citizen. And so, I made Hawaii my home and here I am today.
    Rolf Oudraad

  5. Aloha Franz,

    Semper Fi, next time you’re in Hawaii come to Ko’olina Resort. I work at Aulani a Disney Resort & Spa. Love to show you the resort.

  6. Hoooah SGTMAJ, Thank you for your service . I am a retired USMC MSGT. I hope to meet you the next time I am in Hawaii.

  7. Hi Charles,
    Thanks so much for sharing your uplifting story…and thank you for your service.
    And how fascinating that your 2nd choice, Hawaii, turned out to be the best choice!

    Take care,


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