My grandfather, Charles Toole, was born on August 9th, 1925 in McBean, Georgia. He grew up in the ancestral home of the Twiggs family. General Twiggs was a prominent figure during the Revolutionary War and his son, Major David Twiggs, served in the Mexican-American War. By the time my grandfather’s family began renting the home, it was in very poor condition. When my grandfather was seven, his mother died of tuberculosis, leaving his father to raise him and his six other siblings. His family was poor, because like many others, they were affected by the Great Depression.
Due to World War II, my grandfather was drafted into the army following his 18th birthday. After swearing in, he went to Camp Fannin, in eastern Texas. He completed training about 17 weeks later. He was given leave to return home, and then he had to report to Ft. Meade, Maryland, for re-outfitting. From there, his outfit traveled to Camp Shanks, near New York City. They boarded a troop transport and crossed the Atlantic to Belfast, Northern Ireland where they continued training. Later, they shipped out and eventually wound up in England where my grandfather was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division.
After more training, his division moved to Camp Raleigh, which had been a British Naval station and was located in Plymouth. There, they were enclosed in camp by barbed wire; something they knew meant that they would soon go into action. They were told that they would be partaking in an invasion of Normandy, France, now known as D-Day.
They left Camp Raleigh for the port on a Friday afternoon and boarded a LCI (landing craft infantry). After spending all day Saturday in the LCI, they finally moved out into the English Channel on Sunday afternoon. Due to a storm that came up, they returned to port. They departed again on Monday night after the invasion had been delayed 24 hours. They landed on Omaha beach as part of the 3rd wave. Unlike the earlier waves, my grandfather said that they didn’t face machine gun fire but rather faced snipers, mortars, and artillery fire.
After being in France for just over a week, a mortar round landed close to my grandfather’s fox hole, hitting him in the leg with a piece of shrapnel. He was evacuated to England where he recuperated before rejoining his unit at the end of July.
In later years, my grandfather went on to fight in the Korean war. He went on to be stationed in Germany where he met my grandmother. After proposing to her via letter, they got married in 1962. Two children later, my mother one of them, he left for Vietnam. After a year in Vietnam, he assumed a desk job at the Pentagon. He retired from the army shortly thereafter and moved into civilian life. My grandparents went on to have two more children. They have since retired, and have lived in Deerfield, Illinois, Anchorage Alaska, Wausau Wisconsin, and are in the process of moving to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
I am so proud of my grandfather; he is a true American patriot, and I appreciate the hard-working example he has demonstrated. Along with the serious stories, he has many humorous ones as well that I will never forget. I’ll really miss having him live close by. I love spending time with him ~ especially when we play a super-competitive game of Scrabble.