In Remembrance: Charlie Varga, Sergeant Riverside SWAT – By Scott Reitz

Some of you out there may remember Charlie Varga. He taught with us for a period of time until a spine injury sidelined him for a while. Charlie Varga was a Riverside SWAT Sergeant and was one of those individuals who comes along once in a lifetime. He truly cared for his men. He strove to make the unit better each and every day. Charlie had a heart as honest and as big as a desert sunrise. If you asked him for anything and I mean anything, he would drop everything to be there for you and by your side. Sadly he passed away last Friday. We last saw him a number of months ago on the range. He was still Charlie and still full of life.

When we lose good people we lose a bit of ourselves. All of us who knew him were given a gift for too short a period of time. There are not a lot of true, genuine people out there and in that respect Charlie was one of those we should feel privileged to have known. His humor was infectious and he always had a positive ‘drive-on’ attitude no matter how difficult the situation became. He gave of himself to his family and children and his men. He gave to you as students, who had the extremely good fortune to come across his path. Charlie gave you his patience, knowledge and wisdom. You were lucky to have known him.

I liked Charlie as he saw the world through a no-nonsense lens yet he did it with humor tolerance and patience. Seeing Charlie always immediately put a smile on my face simply because…well…he was Charlie. Few men who lead others command true genuine respect and yet Charlie did this effortlessly for years from everyone whom he came into contact with. He was respected and loved in the same breath which is not an easy feat to accomplish and he would always do to ‘ride the river with.’

What I will miss the most about Charlie is that he was a real person…I simply liked being around him. There wasn’t a false bone in his body. He was a straight shooter if ever there was one. I will really, really miss him as many of you will. He was an irreplaceable treasure. Goodbye Charlie…we will miss and remember you…I promise.

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6 Responses to In Remembrance: Charlie Varga, Sergeant Riverside SWAT – By Scott Reitz

  1. Lt. Bruce W. Smith, RSO says:

    I cannot conceive of a greater or truer tribute. It takes a consummate professional such as you to recognize one, as is evidenced by your thoughtful and heartfelt commentary on Charlie. I was privileged to work with Charlie for an all-too-brief time. I was also privileged to learn the gunfighter’s art through his tremendous knowledge and wisdom on treasured occasions — one of those occasions being with you at the vaunted ITTS “Eagle’s Nest.” May Almighty God keep and comfort Charlie, his family, and his comrades in arms everywhere….

  2. Red Heard says:

    Scott, you could not have said it better. Charlie was simple man blessed with a rare leadership quality. men wanted to be around Charlie. I too, enjoyed Charlie company, every memory of him makes me smile.

  3. Darryl Bolke says:

    This is tragic news. I really got to know Charlie at ITTS many years ago, and we stayed in touch for many years afterwards. We shared the bond of being a couple of gun guys in bordering jurisdictions outside of the city lights of L.A. in the hinterlands of the Inland Empire. Charlie was a gift to the firearms community and a straight up “righteous cop”. I respected him as a mentor, but we also had peer level fun. We would often send nasty little messages about each other when we had our students who were attending classes with the other one. I would always send a student to Charlie with instructions on a question to ask him and when he gave an answer I would tell my guy to tell Charlie “Darryl Bolke said you would probably give a screwed up answer like that”. I did not invent this-Charlie did it to me first.

    Charlie was a great sounding board of reason. Often, when I am exposed to some new training idea or some new whiz bang technique blessed on us by the Ninja community, I will make some phone calls to a few people to get their take on it if it doesn’t quite smell right to me. Charlie got many of these calls. Unlike Uncle Scotty, who tends to go on a screaming tirade, Charlie would always have a calm, diplomatic, thoughtful and well reasoned response based on his exceptional level of both operational and instructional experience. Charlie always reminded me of that wise and good natured Cowboy. The kind of guy Robert Duval would play if they made a movie about Charlie, although he always reminded me of Sam Elliot. Scott came up with the defining word for Charlie-Genuine.

    My heart goes out to Charlie’s family. While I never knew Charlie’s family and we never had that kind of personal relationship, he often spoke proudly about them. Charlie always wanted the best for others and pushed you with the level of push you needed to attain success. I will never forget Charlie. Like many, I was blessed to have been touched by him as a student. Godspeed amigo, you will be dearly missed, but your impressions and deeds will live forever in many of our hearts.-DB

  4. Mike says:

    God just made heaven a little safer. Miss you old man.

  5. Eloy says:


    Thank you for taking a moment to pay tribute to a good man.

    Miss you Charlie.

  6. Greg Topp says:

    Charlie’s loss is felt by many. As hard as it was to say goodbye to Charlie, we must remember of the lives he touched and the ones he saved (through his training of Riverside County’s finest and others).

    I was honored to know Charlie for a couple fo years and only got to shoot with him twice. I was impressed how he can take a complete novice and make them into a decent gun-handler…All within 3-4 hours’ time.

    Scotty: He often spoke about you and his time at ITTS when me, Charlie and our friend, Bill would go out to breakfast. As many have found out when they asked Charlie about this “new” tactic, he would reply: “That’s mildly interesting” and quickly change the subject.

    Charlie was a cop’s cop and was loved by many. We only get to enjoy folks like Charlie once or twice in an entire lifetime. I was honored to have known him.

    CWO3 Greg Topp, USMC

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