Charles H. Wilbanks
Tec Sgt 4
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 05/16/1944 - 02/28/1946
Infantryman, 104th Infantry Division, Company I

He was born near Ida, Louisiana, the only child of T.J. Wilbanks, a farmer, educator, and traveling evangelist for the Southern Baptist Convention, and Gladys Adkins. Charles had five half-brothers and sisters from his father's first marriage that ended in his first wife's death. Besides preaching revivals, his father raised cotton, cattle, corn, and sweet potatoes--all with the aid of sharecroppers. Charles went to high school in Ida, then spent his last year at Rodessa High School, where he graduated in 1940. The following September he entered Centenary College to study business management. Drafted in May of 1944 he was sent to basic training at Camp Fannin near Tyler, Texas, then shipped to England on the SS Isle De France. Charles recalls 15,000 soldiers were aboard the ship. He was sent on to Le Havre, France, then rode "forty and eight" rail cars to The Netherlands, and then into Hagen, Germany. There he was assigned to the 104th "Timberwolf" Infantry Division. Because of his college education, Charles was assigned to keeping rosters. He crossed the Rhine River at Remagen. In Bad Lauterberg a sniper wounded him in the collarbone, for which he would receive one of his three Purple Hearts (another one was for wounds by mortar fire). He was flown back to a hospital in France, where he was recuperating when Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. From Camp Lucky Strike, he boarded a Victory ship for America. Along with the 104th, he was sent on to San Luis Obispo, California, where he began amphibious training in preparation, he believes, for the invasion of Japan. After the war ended, he was discharged from Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in February of 1946. He went to work for East Texas Motor Freight in Tyler, Texas. On April 14, 1948 he married Margaret Pennywell. They would have two children. He worked for City Service Oil Company for 14 years, then for ARCO Gas Company. He retired from that company in 1985.