Freedom Fighters: Charles Monroe - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Charles Monroe

ATHENS, TX (KLTV) -

The capture of German prisoners in World War Two brought Charles Monroe the Bronze Star, but it was a German bullet that brought him a purple heart.

Seventy years after his service in WWII, Monroe received his highest medal. On November 14, 2014, the French Government presented Monroe with their "Legion of Honor" at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. The Legion of Honor is France's equivalent to the U.S. Medal of Honor.

Monroe was 18 when he arrived in France on June 13, D-Day 7 of the Normandy Invasion. the deadly fighting at St. Lo's gave him a taste of what war was really like. 

"When we started, we had a full company of men, but after that battler, there were 19 of us," Monroe remembered, recalling that there were initially 160 men.

After St. Lo's, it was on into Belgium for the Battle of the Bulge, and then the heavily fortified Seigreed Line. 

"We fought the Germans all the way to the German border...the Hertegen Forest."

It was there that Monroe earned his bronze star for valor.

"The Germans were on one side of a deep alley and we were on the other side," he told me.

When Monroe's commanding officer asked for volunteers to go behind enemy lines and capture a German soldier, Monroe volunteered, along with five others.

"We had to consider the mines they left...the bouncing bettys," he said.

With Monroe carefully making his way into enemy territory and his men following by walking in his footsteps, they made it to an outpost manned by one very young German soldier. The soldier was interrogated at the American camp, but didn't know anything about German positions, so Monroe and his men once again went across enemy lines.

"There were six or seven Germans with machine guns," he said.

Monroe knew his men had to attack before the Germans set up their guns; five of the men surrendered, were taken back to camp and questioned.

"The Germans were, had command of the high ground around us."

It was the battle of Prum, Germany, February 7, that Monroe was hit in the right shoulder.

"I thought my arm was blown off," he recalled.

After learning he still had his arm, because he could move his fingers, Monroe walked back to camp. Needing further medical aid, Monroe got into an ambulance with other wounded men for a trip to the hospital in Metz. Monroe says he was feeling sorry for himself until he saw the wounds of the other soldiers.

"The guy next to me, of course, he was sedated, but he didn't have any feet."

After a short recovery, Monroe was sent back into battle until the war in Europe finally ended. Monroe's new medal, The French Legion of Honor, is a late but much appreciated symbol of Charles Monroe's bravery for his country and for others who love freedom.

And Monroe says, "I'd do the same thing again, if I could."

Copyright 2015 KLTV. All rights reserved.



Powered by Frankly