Charles Older

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Charles Herman Older
Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court
In office
Appointed byRonald Reagan
Personal details
Born(1917-09-29)September 29, 1917
Hanford, California, U.S.
DiedJune 17, 2006(2006-06-17) (aged 88)
West Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles
University of Southern California
OccupationJudge, lawyer and fighter pilot
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps Reserve
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force Reserve
RankLieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsWorld War II
Korean War
AwardsDistinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)
Order of the Cloud and Banner (China)

Charles Herman Older (September 29, 1917 – June 17, 2006) was an American who was the third highest scoring ace of the American Volunteer Group (the "Flying Tigers")[1] and later the judge in the Charles Manson murder trial.[2]

Early life[edit]

Older was born in Hanford, California on September 29, 1917.[3]

He earned a degree in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1939.[3]

Military service[edit]

R. T. Smith in front of Older's P-40B in Kunming, China

He became a pilot in the Marine Corps Reserve, but resigned to join the American Volunteer Group, better known as the Flying Tigers, to fight the Japanese prior to the United States entry into World War II. A member of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron (the "Hell's Angels"), he is credited with 10 victories, making him a double ace.[3] By the end of the war, he had been promoted to lieutenant colonel.[4]

In 1950, he was called back to active duty, flying the Douglas B-26 Invader in the Korean War.[4]

Law career[edit]

He graduated from University of Southern California law school in 1952.[2][5][6] After a distinguished legal career, he was appointed to the bench of the Los Angeles Superior Court by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1967.[3] Older served for 20 years before retiring.

His most famous case was the Charles Manson trial.[5] The trial lasted 10 months, the longest in American history at the time. Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi praised Older for his firm but fair handling of the difficult case. At one point, Manson tried to attack the judge and had to be restrained by bailiffs.


On June 17, 2006, he died at the age of 88 of complications from a fall in his home in West Los Angeles.[2] He was survived by his wife, Catherine Day Older, and three daughters.[2]


  1. ^ Rossi, J.R. "3rd Squadron Roster The Flying Tigers". The Flying Tigers – American Volunteer Group – Chinese Air Force.
  2. ^ a b c d "Charles Older, 88; Presided Over Manson Trial". The Washington Post. Associated Press. June 17, 2006.
  3. ^ a b c d Douglas Martin (June 21, 2006). "Charles H. Older, 88, Judge Who Presided at Manson Trial, Dies". The New York Times.
  4. ^ a b Ford, Daniel (March 14, 2016). Tales of the Flying Tigers: Five Books About the American Volunteer Group, Mercenary Heroes of Burma and China. Daniel Ford. pp. 117–. Retrieved April 25, 2017.
  5. ^ a b Rossi, J.R. "Older biography". The Flying Tigers – American Volunteer Group – Chinese Air Force.
  6. ^ Jocelyn Stewart (July 7, 2006). "Manson case judge also a war hero". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]