Born:                             24 June 1924

Enlistment date:            09 February 1943       

Deployments:                Europe

Units:                             501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

Rank:                            Private

Specialisations:             Communications, Parachutist

Qualifications:              Wireman, Combat Infantryman Badge, Parachute Wings

Decorations:                  Bronze Star, EAME Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation

Discharge Date:            December 1945

Deceased:                      27 June 2004 

 Other Information:         Charlie Bonner graduated from Tulsa’s Central High School in 1942 and joined the U.S. Army on February 9, 1943.  He was a U.S. Army Ranger Pathfinder with the 101st Airborne Division, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment parachuting into France as part of the greatest invasion force in the history of warfare.  As Pathfinders, it was their job to go in behind enemy lines ahead of the main invasion force and set up radar beacons to guide Allied air strikes and air drops.  They jumped 11 hours ahead of H-Hour on D-Day, June 6th, 1944 and actually landed over seven miles off course at Ste Mere Eglise and just six miles inland from Utah Beach.  He quickly learned the hard way why all paratroopers had been forced to undergo months of running with heavy packs and equipmentCharlie managed to survive the first combat jump and the horror and death of the invasion that day.  His unit was so successful that they were soon ordered to spearhead Operation Market-Garden in Holland to seize key bridges to keep the Germans from destroying them and to keep them from sending panzers across them for counter attacks.  From there they moved on to Bastogne, where they soon became completely surrounded when the Germans rallied for the Battle of The Bulge.

Charlie stayed in the service until after the war’s end finally being discharged in December 1945.

Charlie came back to Tulsa, married his wife of more than fifty years Colleen, and raised a beautiful family.  He also became a successful businessman in the upholstery, carpet and drapery business.  He had no acquaintances, only friends and those people he hadn’t met yet.  Those that knew Charlie saw a man with a strong faith in God, a can-do attitude and the epitome of those described as the Greatest Generation!

Charlie Bonner fought his last battle, a battle with cancer, bravely and valiantly and lost that battle on June 27, 2004.  Now at peace forever, safely home in Heaven at last.  We will never forget you, Charlie! 

Charlie managed to survive the first combat jump and the horror and death of the invasion that day.  His unit was so successful that they were soon ordered to spearhead Operation Market-Garden in Holland to seize key bridges to keep the Germans from destroying them and to keep them from sending panzers across them for counter attacks.  From there they moved on to Bastogne, where they soon became completely surrounded when the Germans rallied for the Battle of the Bulge.

 Of all the battles he would face, Charlie remembered being trapped at Bastogne as being the “toughest, coldest, wettest, hungriest, and the meanest battle of them all”.  From this battle, Charley’s unit crossed the Rhine River and eventually captured Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”, his heavily guarded retreat in the Alps.  He was able to obtain some of Hitler’s personal stationery and used it to write a letter back home to his parents (see copy of letter). 

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