Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Charles Norman Shay. Charles served during World War II and the Korean War.
Charles is a Penobscot Indian from Maine. In 1943, he was drafted into the Army at 19 years old. Charles was trained as a medical technician and became a combat medic deployed during WWII. Charles’ duties on the battlefield included bandaging wounds and applying tourniquets while also saving injured soldiers caught on the battlefield.
Charles fought in the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France. He was among the first American soldiers to jump into the water to invade Omaha Beach. During the invasion, he cared for wounded soldiers while still under fire. Later, Charles and his unit were seized by German soldiers and taken as prisoners of war until American soldiers freed the camp.
When he returned home, Charles struggled to find work and returned to the Army to serve in the Korean War.
Charles married Lilli Rosa Bollarth, a woman he had met while stationed in Austria. He was instrumental in the re-publication of his grandfather’s book and published an autobiography of his own. Charles has revisited Normandy on numerous occasions to honor the fallen soldiers and commemorate anniversaries of the battle.
Charles received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and the Legion d’Honneur, making him the first Indian of Maine with this distinction. He has been instrumental in honoring Indian soldiers, as well.
Thank you for your service, Charles!
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Graphic By Damin Jung: Damin Jung is a student studying Web Design. She has a BS in International Relations and Politics.