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Charles Black from "All Who Would Be Valiant"
War Stories About People in the Pew, Daniel G. Koenig

    CHARLES BLACK, a cousin of Ed Black, native of Pinehurst, NC, and close friend of Vernon Hodgin, was in the US Navy during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. He was a sailor on the USS Rich. The Rich was an escort ship which accompanied many aircraft carriers and transport ships across the Atlantic to England. 

    Shortly before the invasion of Normandy, many ships were called into this action. This was to be one of the crucial moments in the entire war and of all of human history. This battle had to be won and the enemy had to be overpowered. Charles' ship swept Through the dark waters of the English Channel on that great day. The Germans had planted mines and the American and Allied fleet knew it, but these obstructions had to be overcome. Some ships had to pay the price so others could get through. The USS Rich and its men were one of the sacrificial victims. 

    The Rich was sunk as it was split into three huge sections. Charles was on deck wading through empty shell cases as his ship exploded. He saw the top deck and observation tower disappear with men lost whom he had talked to just minutes before the tragedy. Somehow he was carried off the ship and woke up in a London hospital. 

    Many men were killed and many others had to be rescued from the waters of the British Channel. Charles was honored with a Purple Heart. He shared with Vernon Hodgin a profound view of life as a gift. It is amazing how many celebrities are often arrogant when they feel the notoriety of achievement while soldiers who have been wounded and sacrificed themselves for their country are often quiet and utterly humble. It is easy to forget who the real heroes are and, of course, their lack of compensation for what really mattered and how it affects us to this very day.

(Reprinted from "All Who Would Valiant Be", war stories about people in the pew, by Daniel G. Koenig)

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