United States Army 32-036-038
World War II
The 43rd Infantry Division Winged Division
Charles A. Graves, U.S. Army
Recon Forces 43rd Cavalry
Recon Troop (Mechanized)
Duties: While assigned to an infantry unit performed special patrols or set up reconnaissance listening posts to observe and report enemy movements or unit strengths. To walk ahead of patrols to gain enemy information on troop size and movement.
E-5 Platoon Sgt. Recon NCO 761
Instructor- Martial Arts
Medals and Awards: Asiatic Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, American Campaign with 2 Stars, Good Conduct with 2 Stars
Married: Sept. 16, 1947 to Florence (Haynes) in Dunkirk
Children: Charles E. Graves Jr., Claudia (Graves) Snyder and Sally Graves.
Grandchildren: Saunsanie (Ramos) Kitchko, Nevia Ramos, Jennasha Ramos, Jillian (Snyder) Domenico, Gilbert Snyder III, Jason Graves and Matthew Graves
Great-grandchildren: Gabriella, Charles, Gracia, Emelia Domenico
U.S. Army Duty - Enlisted on Feb. 24, 1941, Camp Blanding, Fla.; March 1941 to January 1942, Camp Shelby, Miss.; January 1942 to September 1942; Fort Ord, Calif., September 1942; New Zealand, New Caledonia, New Hebrides, September 1942 to September 1943; Guadalcanal, February 1943; Russell Islands, February 1943 to July 1943; New Georgia, July 1943 to December 1943; New Zealand, December 1943 to July 1944; New Guinea, July 1944 to January 1945; Luzon, January 1945 to September 1945; Japan, September 1945 to October 1945; Discharged, October 1945.
Charles A. (E.) Graves was born on Sept. 2, 1916, at his home. He is the son of Hugh and Louise (Wingerson) Graves. The family lived in their Howard Street home. His father Hugh was employed by the City of Dunkirk where he worked at B.N.E., the city-owned power station. His father held the position of switchboard operator.
Graves attended Dunkirk School 4 growing up as a child. In high school he excelled at many sports, and was a natural in track, football and baseball. Many of his coaches crossed their fingers and hoped that he wouldn't get hurt doing other sports that were not theirs, fearing he wouldn't be able to play for the season. He could be found at the track, the football fields, baseball diamonds or basketball court. He could always be found with his best friends T. T. Grace, Ron Thomas, Joe (Sarge)Spayer or J. (Shep) Shepperd.
The group loved hanging out at Point Gratiot and if they weren't there, they could be found at the local gas stations on Fifth and Park or Lucas and Central Avenue. Ray Gunther's garage was probably the best pick of the group, always there rebuilding a carburator, changing a transmission or helping put on a new muffler. They did anything to make the car go just a little faster or at least make it look like it would go faster.
He knew his time was getting close to enter into the military, so when 1941 rolled around not one day passed that he didn't have thoughts of becoming part of the Armed Forces. He was off to Buffalo and became part of the U.S. Army infantry forces. While in training and having some time off, he was in a movie theater in Miami. The projectionist stopped the movie and announced that the U.S. Naval forces stationed in the Hawaiian Islands were attacked by Japanese forces. The projectionist announced that it was advisable for any military personnel in the theater to report back to their duty stations. Graves headed back thinking he would be on the next ship that was heading toward the Hawaiian Islands. He, as most Americans serving in the military, didn't see overseas duty until the fall of 1942.
I knew who Charles Graves was. I remember him from being on the Dunkirk Police force. I was always walking his beat. I have heard stories about Charles Graves stating that he was a great patrolman. He loved his job, as it allowed him to be on the streets and helping people in the community. He always loved telling jokes, and at times, did his share of having fun, even at work.
While on patrol one night, he received a call that there was a horse walking freely in Washington Park and that the horse was eating flowers and scaring people. Graves called in and told the desk officer that he would take care of the problem. A few minutes later, the desk officer heard the door open and there was a horse trying to enter the police station. Outside was Officer Graves laughing out loud, stating he was bringing in the Washington Park suspect. He had arrested the horse.
Doing the In Memory stories is at times difficult. A lot of times family members have scattered and many names and places are forgotten and will no longer be heard of. I would have loved to spend my hour or two with Graves. It's my fault, because I should have started doing these stories 20 years ago. So many heroes have left us and so many stories could have been told if only someone would have just asked.
When I have the honor to interview these local heroes, I am so proud knowing these heroes are going back into their time in life. Times that no one realizes that these veterans go to back to each and every day of their lives. Times that had changed so many of them, and to know that they are sharing this not only with me, but also with the readers. These are special once-in-a-lifetime stories.
I came across an article that was published on May 7, 1943, in the Dunkirk OBSERVER from a bunch of items that Graves had left. The story was about our hero and how humorous he was, even while serving during the war years. The story started with a censor-approved news letter.
"Sgt. Charles A. Graves of Dunkirk, who is in the Southwest Pacific War area, has learned that the censors keep a pretty watchful eye on the soldiers' mail," the article began.
The letter was written on April 8, 1943, to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Graves of Howard Avenue in Dunkirk. This was the letter to "Dear Ma and Dad."
"Just a few lines to let you know I am O.K. and hope you are the same. I can tell you just a little about our last movement," the letter began. "After leaving where we were before, we left for here not knowing we were coming from there. We couldn't tell if we would arrive here or not. Nevertheless we are now here and not there.
"The weather here is just as it is at this season. But of course quite unlike the weather where we were before we came here. After leaving by what we came by, we had a good trip. The people here are just like they look, but don't look to be like they were where we came from. From there to here is just as far as it is from here to there.
"The way we came here is just like everyone comes from there to here. Of course we had to bring everything we had with us, for what we wear here is not what we would wear there.
"The whole thing is quite a new experience here, because it is not like what it was where we were before. It is now time to stop this somewhat newsy letter, before I give away too much information, as the censor is likely to be a spy."
After reading this letter, the censor not only approved it, he also requested the local newspaper of this soldier to publish it.
For his service, dedication and humor, Charles Graves is our Hero of the Week.