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Hero Down: U.S. National Park Service Ranger Charles Otto Dies By Suicide

Henderson, NV – U.S. National Park Service (NPS) Ranger Charles Otto died by suicide on March 13, according to a fundraising page established to help his family in the wake of their loss.

“Ranger Charles Otto was a Navy Veteran and such a talented Ranger in all aspects and was a mentor to many,” the fundraising page read. “We are all shocked and saddened by his passing…”

The 39-year-old ranger enjoyed participating in Civil Air Patrol in his youth, and earned his “solo wings” in 1997, according to his obituary.

He also obtained an open water diving certificate when he was still a teen.

Ranger Otto joined the U.S. Navy straight out of high school in 1999, and served on the USS Leyte Gulf and the USS Bunker Hill as a cryptological technician, according to the tribute.

Prior to his honorable discharge in November of 2005, Ranger Otto earned two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a National Defense Service Medal, a Navy Good Conduct Medal, Navy Battle Efficiency “E” Ribbons, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, an Iraqi Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Charles E. “Chuck” Yeagar Aerospace Education Achievement Award.

He went on to attend Minnesota State University Mankato, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement and recreation, parks and leisure services.

Ranger Otto began working for the U.S. NPS in 2009, according to the fundraising page.

“He worked at Yellowstone National Park, Great Basin National Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and attended the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center four times,” his obituary read.

Ranger Otto served as a motorboat operation instructor, a field training officer, and was also an instructor for firearms and use of force.

He leaves behind his wife, Melanie, as well as his six-year-old son, Andrew, and his two-year-old daughter, Emma, according to the fundraising page.

Ranger Otto is also survived by his parents, siblings, grandparents, and many friends and extended family members, his obituary read.

He was laid to rest on March 22.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of U.S. National Park Service Ranger Charles Otto, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.

Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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