Charles E. Deen
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 1/6/1941 - 12/10/1945
Armored Car Driver, 89th Infantry Division

He saw death young and often. His mother, his father, his foster mother, two foster fathers, and a sister all died before he went to war. Charles was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, where his father served as a policeman. He spent much of his childhood in several family and foster homes. He remembers "hungry days" when he lived with a stepmother in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. They picked wild greens and onions and cooked them in bacon grease. Charles dropped out of school in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, because he was ashamed of his clothes. He worked as an usher in movie theaters, making twelve dollars a week. He was sent to live with a sister in Applebee, Texas, and with his aunt and uncle, Albert and I.T. Deen. Charles graduated from Nacogdoches High School in 1940. He returned to Shreveport, worked in a service station with an uncle, and tried to get a pilot's license but failed the test. He enlisted at Fort Humbug on January 6, 1941 in the Louisiana National Guard, joining the 204th Coastal Artillery. The unit was sent to Camp Hulen near Palacios, Texas. Of his one-year enlistment he says, "I was going to make myself ready so that I would be able to get into the fighter pilot program. That was going to be my life." Bored with camp life, he volunteered for detached service in the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941. After the war began he re-joined his artillery unit in San Diego where they provided anti-aircraft defense. He was sent to the ASTP (Army Specialized Training Program) and ordered to The Citadel in Charleston. From there he was sent to the University of Kentucky. Ordered to Fort Monroe, Virginia, to drive officers, he volunteered for the infantry instead, and was placed in reconnaissance of the Eighty-Ninth Infantry. The Eighty-Ninth shipped out of Camp Miles Standish in Boston on the HMS Marine Wolf and sailed to LeHavre, France, arriving in early January of 1945. Charles drove an armored car with a fifty-caliber machine gun. Advancing into Luxembourg he earned a Silver Star for rescuing a badly wounded jeep driver from a firefight. He was on a reconnaissance patrol when word came over the radio to "stop and come back to headquarters. The war is over." He describes the overall reaction to Germany's surrender as "just relieved." Charles returned on the SS United States. After his discharge at Camp Shelby near Hattiesburg, Mississippi, he enrolled at Centenary College on the GI Bill. Clothing was so hard to get he had his uniform dyed brown "so I could have something to wear." After a semester at Centenary he went to work at the post office where he met his future wife, Edna Marie Hammond. They married May 7, 1949 and had one daughter and three stepsons, fourteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. He retired from the postal service in 1979.