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Charles W. Brown
War: World War II
Branch: Army
Unit: 423 Regiment - 103 Division
Highest Rank: SGT
Birth Year: November 11, 1924
Decorations/Ribbons: European Theater with 3 Battle Stars; Victory Medal; Good Conduct Medal; Expert Infantry Rifleman


Charlie Brown entered the Service shortly after completing high school in Ann Arbor. He was working at the A&P at the time. After his Basic Training, he was sent overseas. It wasn't too long before he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge. There was a great deal of mud that the trucks had to get through. Charlie and his group had to cut trees so that the trucks could avoid the mud. There were no power saws so everything was done by hand. At one point, Charlie was asked to drive one of the trucks because the regular driver was not available. They hit a land mine. The truck was blown up. The two men next to him received shrapnel wounds. Three men in the trucks rear were blown out of the truck and although they were bruised they survived. Charlie received minor bruises.

After taking a pounding from the Germans, his Colonel decided to surrender. The Colonel told the Unit that they had a choice. They could surrender to the Germans or try to find a way to escape. Charlie and a group of about 50 G.I.'s decided to try the latter. The 50 plus group spent a total of 4 days behind the German lines.

During the 4 days behind enemy lines, the group tried to avoid detection. Charlie reported that one time he was so close to a German soldier who was looking for his buddy that he could have tripped him. Of course he didn't. Another time the group rested to take a nap they were so tired. One of the other soldiers woke Charlie because they were in the middle of a German tank assembly area. For all 4 days, Charlie only had one candy bar to eat. When they finally got back to the American lines, they all ate real well, except that since they had not eaten for so long, the food did not stay with them.

Charlie was still in Belgium when V-E Day was declared. From that point on they were packing up and preparing to go to the Pacific. Everyone was relieved when V-J Day was declared. He then started his trip home. While awaiting discharge, Charlie was in Indiana near enough to relatives to visit. On one occasion he was taking a shortcut through a cemetery. There was an empty grave that he jumped into to see how it felt. His cousin told him to get out. The gravestone was for CHARLE W. BROWN.

He used the G.I. Bill to get an Associates Degree from Cleary College. He then went to wok for the State of Michigan and finally worked up to Assistant Business Manager at the local State Hospital. Charlie was married for 50 years before his wife died. His second wife was a widow after 40 years of marriage. They have been married for seven years. Charlie says he and his wife have been married for 97 years.