In observance of Veterans Day, The Harlan Daily Enterprise is pleased to feature local veterans this week.
Remembering his service as a World War II veteran, Charles Denny Day, 88 of Cawood, served in the U.S. Army, entering the service in 1943, at the age of 18.
After serving two and one-half years, Day was honorably discharged in 1946.
“I shipped out from Camp Stoneman in California and went to New Guinea,” said Day. “We didn’t get off the boat in New Guinea, but sat there for about 20 days waiting for orders. Then we went to Leyte Island where we got off the boat and stayed for a while in Tacloban. We then moved from Leyte Island to Luzon in the Philippines.”
In the 4th Army maintenance engineers division, Day said he was under Gen. Douglas MacArthur during his service.
“I traveled all over the Philippines and I actually had the chance to meet Gen. MacArthur on Kaizen Boulevard,” said Day. “It thrilled me to meet him. He had a home there in Lasa Heights, where Bilibid Prison was at.”
Day said from the Philippines he traveled to Japan as occupational troops after the bomb was dropped in Hiroshima traveling to Kyushu, Honshu, Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Obtaining the rank of Cpl. T-5, a special technician rank, Day said he was a driver, driving for officers and non-commissioned officers during the war.
“I was in the combat zone seven months,” said Day. “As a driver, I could hear the action all around me. I would be driving and if I had an officer with me he’d tell me to speed it up and get out of there.”
Recalling the loss of one of his hometown buddies, Don Cawood, who served with him during this time, Day said his friend was “shot down” and killed.
“I believe he was a tail-gunner in the Air Force while I was on the ground,” said Day. “He got shot down around Baguio and I was there about the same time he got shot down. I didn’t see it or know anything about it until I got back home. It hurt me when I found out.
“I’m proud to be a veteran, but I wouldn’t want to do it again unless I was called by my country to do it again. There were five of us boys in my family and I’m the only one who went to fight for our country and I was the baby one. All the others didn’t have to go. I was the only one drafted.”
After returning from the war, Day said he married, Vonny Williams, and they had one son, Ricky, who is now 58 years old and lives in Louisville. He said he and his wife divorced and she also now lives in Louisville. Day said he is still in “pretty good shape for his age.” He gave credit to the Veterans Administration whom he said “takes good care of him.”
Receiving a number of commendations, some of which include Philippine Liberation, Army of Occupation Japan, Overseas Service, Commemorating Victory, Commemorating Pacific Victory/Japan, Cold War Commemorative, U.S. Army Commemorative and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, Day is a member of the VFW Post 1178, American Legion Post 336, AM Vets, Disabled American Vets, Harlan Honor Guard and is a Kentucky Colonel.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, firstname.lastname@example.org