Skip to comments.Another of the greatest generation goes to his reward.
Posted on 09/09/2004 7:48:53 AM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
Charles B. (Chuck) Earnhart, May 15, 1918 - September 1, 2004.
The other day, one of my best friend's dad passed away. Most knew Chuck as a good and gentle hog farmer or real estate agent from the tiny town of Hohenwald, Tennessee. But few knew how much he did for the people of Great Britain or the United States.
At the age of 21, Chuck loved to fly and already had his private pilot's license. He loved to fly so much that on his very first date with his future wife, Janice, he took her to fly in his own airplane. Janice was impressed and smitten frm the beginning.
When the war started on September 1, 1939, Chuck knew that he was destined to fly and fight in the war. He was one of about 300 young pilots who went to Canada and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. About half of those 300 paid the ultimate sacrifice defeating Nazism. Chuck was quickly sent through flight school and the RCAF recognized him as an outstanding pilot and sent him to learn to fly the fighters.
By early spring of 1940, Chuck had mastered the Spitfire, Typhoon, and Hurricane fighter airplanes and by the time the Battle of Britain was in full swing, Chuck was flying two and three multi-hour missions each day. Before the U.S. entered the war, Chuck's airplane had been shot up several times and shot down once, parachuting safely down in England. But Chuck gave back better than he got racking up 4 1/2 kills (the 1/2 was a shared kill with a wingman).
Chuck joined the US Army Air Corps as soon as they came to England and was eventually assigned to fly the P-47D Thunderbolt, but he sorely missed the nimbleness of the Spitfire and flew escort for the bombers over Europe for the next two years.
In his official flight log, Chuck flew three missions on June 6, 1944 for a total of 11 flight hours. Because of the ruggedness and bomb carrying payload of the P-47, Chuck's main job was close air support of troops and ground attack.
On June 28, 1944, the odds caught up with him and on a strafing mission over Belgium at an altitude of only 50 feet, a lucky shot to the engine forced Chuck to crash land his plane. His unit listed him as MIA. The people of a nearby village rushed to his aid and were able to rescue the injured and unconscious airman and hid him in their small village.
When the Germans came, they were furious and demanded that the villagers turn him over. The villagers played dumb (despite the fact that they were obviously the ones who rescued Chuck) and the Germans executed two young men in their anger but they did not tell where Chuck was.
Over the next several weeks while the Allies advanced and Chuck healed enough to move around, he learned of the sacrifice of the two young men desite their efforts to not bother him with their deaths. Chuck promised that they had not died in vain and vowed to make their sacrifice worth it. When the Allied advance was close enough to him, Chuck lierally walked through the front lines and back into friendly hands. For that he earned the right to wear a small patch in the shape of a pair of boots.
It was six months after he was shot down before he was allowed to fly again and before the end of the war, in addition to the Purple Heart earned in the crash, he had racked up four more combat kills, a Distinguised Service medal four Air Combat medals (one for each 25 combat missions), and several other medals from the people of Great Britain (please pardon me if I get them wrong). Chuck was never officially recognized as an ace despite the fact that he had 8 1/2 kills because of his service in two different services.
Being a true hero, he never said a word about this injustice so several years ago I tried to get official recognition for that feat but as many of you know, a fire at the St. Louis military records archives destroyed a large number of veterans records and apparently Chuck's were among them and I came to a dead end.
Before his death, Chuck had expressed his desires that no extraordinary means be used to extend his life and on September 1, 2004, Chuck passed quietly away at home with those he loved near him. He was an humble Christian and there is no doubt that he is heaven with those who went before him. He was buried with military honors next to Janice who had passed away 11 years earlier. He is survived by his adopted son, Robert and Robert's two daughters.
Chuck was one of the men about whom Winston Churchill spoke when he said, "Never have so many owed so much to so few".
And I pray that we never forget.
Thank you for taking hte time to read this.
God's letting him fly now without wings and I bet he's loving it!
Now there was a real Hero. Too bad he didn't run for President.
JUST A COMMON SOLDIER
(A Soldier Died Today)
by A. Lawrence Vaincourt
He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.
And tho' sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?
A politician's stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.
It's so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?
He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.
If we cannot do him honor while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country Is In Mourning, For A Soldier Died Today.
© 1985 A. Lawrence Vaincourt
Thanks! Because of these men, this remains a great country.
As long as our country remains a GOOD country, there will always be good people to replinish the ranks.
As we mourn his passing, let us reflect upon his deeds.
What a stud!
You should send that to "The Tennessean" newspaper. You never know, maybe the left wing rag would print it. More people should know about this man's heroism.
Another HERO goes Home....
He was a true hero.
This was a loss for all mankind.
What a wonderful tribute to the man. Thank you.
I can't imagine having it on your conscience for the rest of your life that two strangers voluntarily laid down their lives to keep you safe. Not repayable. It's beyond humbling.
BTTT;- Thank You for posting this !!!
Thank you for posting...
IMHO, this should be posted to the next FR Foxhole thread..regards..
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air. Up, up the long delirious, burning blue, I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace Where never lark, or even eagle flew - And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod The high untresspassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee No 412 squadron, RCAF Killed 11 December 1941
I remember hearing that poem and seeing a video clip of an F-105 as it was being read. I don't suppose anyfreeper would have it as a digital copy, would they?
God Bless Mr. Earnhart! Just the fact that he survived the Battle of Britain is astounding. I think the RAF pilots had an average life span of 6 WEEKS during that 40-41 time period!
| Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Yep. You're right. Thanks for posting that.
...decribes the origins of this poem. Coincidentally, the author was himself a WWII Spitfire pilot who perished only weeks after authoring the poem.
Thanks for posting this. What an excellent story.
We are surrounded by heroes, and we usually don't even know it.
Nope. But my local TV station used to play it at least once every day when I was growing up. It is burned into my memory.
Wow, what a wartime record! We owe so much to Chuck Earnhart and his generation. I am sad that I never met Chuck.
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