Charles L. Bryant
U. S. Marines
WWII US Military
In charge of forty-millimeter anti-aircraft guns aboard ship

Born in Laurel, Mississippi as the son of a sharecropper, "Chuck" dropped out of school after the ninth grade and helped his father on the farm. He also sold newspapers, delivered for a drugstore, caddied at the golf course, and worked at a lumber company. He recalls picking cotton, averaging about fifty pounds a day. Chuck joined the U.S. Marine Corps in November of 1942. He was sent to Pearl Harbor where he guarded Japanese prisoners. As a member of the Sixth Marine Division, he was later assigned to the USS Pensacola (CL/CA-24) a heavy cruiser, where he was in charge of "three quad groups" of forty-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. The Pensacola served in the battle of Tarawa, where Charles gave covering fire to invading forces. He also saw action in seven battles, including the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. At Iwo Jima he watched through binoculars as GIs raised the United States flag over Mount Suribachi. From shipboard near the coast of Okinawa he witnessed Japanese civilians as they threw themselves to their deaths into the sea from high mountain ledges. Charles was discharged in Florida as a corporal on September 15, 1945. He worked at Green Lumber Company in Laurel and then purchased his father's grocery store where he lived with his wife in a room in back. He returned to the service in 1947, this time in the U.S. Army. Among several assignments, he served as advisor to the Tennessee National Guard, and as an instructor at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, and at Fort Polk near Leesville, Louisiana. He taught ROTC at Byrd High School in Shreveport and then spent eighteen years with Great Southern Life.