I lost another of my Veterans a few days back. Charles was my one and only Korean War Veteran. He survived the Chosin Reservoir massacre by staying awake and fighting for days. His company was overrun by the enemy. Sixteen of the sixty four men in his platoon survived by the sheer grace of God. Each was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge which was no small feat for a Negro in a segregated unit in 1950. It would be four more years before the true integration of the Army was substantially enforced.
Charles came down with a nasty case of pneumonia in late March 1951 from the experience that metamorphosed into suppurative encephalitis -also called the Japanese Sleeping Sickness. They refused to let him go on sick call until he collapsed into a coma on April 12. He was unconscious for almost a month with 103+ temperatures regularly. He was evacuated to Tokyo, Japan where he recovered over the next three months. They jacked him with 35 million units of Penicillin over that time and managed to save his life.
Instead of sending him back to the U.S. upon his recovery, they shipped him back into combat on July 15th. He returned to the U.S. under his normal rotation that Fall but never completely recovered from the disease. Dizziness, painful headaches and memory issues would plague him to his dying day.
His loving wife Petra will now pick up his battle flag and carry it forward against the VA for him. VA threw his original claims in the trash can in 1953 as they did all Blacks back then. Unfortunately for VA, they forgot to throw the rest of the claims file in with it and left a paper trail Charles was able to resurrect in 2008. He was eventually awarded 100% for his residuals but VA fought long and hard to deprive him of his just compensation all the way back to 1953. I aim to fix that.
We were right on the cusp of finally putting paid to all this at the BVA when he became ill and succumbed to numerous ills. I hope I have the stamina to make it to 87 and continue to help Veterans avoid these pitfalls too. Farewell my friend. I am honored that I was chosen by you to fight this battle and I won’t rest until you are vindicated. He would do no less for me were the shoe on the other foot.
You can view his obituary here.
Rest in peace, sir. No finer or braver Eleven Bravo ever wore the blue fourraggere.