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A Veteran' Voice: Charlie Wilson

Charlie Wilson was a guy from Jersey.
Posted at 11:13 AM, Jul 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-01 14:13:34-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif (KERO) — In this Veterans Voice, a man used "his" to communicate with allied forces in the air over the Pacific during World War II.

Charlie Wilson was a guy from Jersey who went from the street corner to the South Pacific as a radioman aboard a C-47 transport plane. And with all that talking, he's a guy who still knows how to tell a story at the age of 95.

But it was his aptitude for music that determined his career after he enlisted in June of 1943. He was sent to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for radio school and later assigned to a C-47 transport plane.

He left Hawaii in late 1943 for the Battle of Tarawa before bringing in supplies for ground forces in the Kwajelan Atoll.

But Charlie says they did have beer courtesy of some Navy SeaBees and they had a way to keep it cold.

Charlie says his crew was making runs every other day from bases in Guam and the Philippines but there was always one item that was in short supply: toilet paper.

He was also on flights pulling wounded out of Iwo Jima from an airstrip in the Philippines cut out of the jungle.

Trading in the C-47 for a four-engine C-54, Charlie's crew double their range to 4,000 miles. And the worst part of any mission was the landing.

In fact, in the hundreds of missions, he only had to bail out once.

Charlie was able to keep in touch with life back home, picking up radio signals from the states thousands of miles away. But he could never tune in to the most popular DJ in Japan: Tokyo Rose.

After spending more than two months in Japan after the war, Charlie finally returned to the states, got his degree in electrical engineering, and began his career that included 20 years with Hughes Aircraft.

Charlie took part in the 10th Honor Flight seven years ago. His daughter keeps a shadow box of memories from his time in the service that looks impressive. The greatest value is the memories they keep alive in a guy that loves to tell stories if you have a few hours to spare.