A Tribute to Our Heroes by Mallory Sanders
Charles Henson, Jr. was born March 4, 1924, in Monroe, GA and graduated Monroe High School in 1940. After studying at Georgia Tech for a couple of years, he enlisted in the ASTP (American Specialized Training Program) wanting to serve his country during a time of war. Following 17 weeks of basic training in Anniston, AL, Charles completed Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, GA.
Preparing to enter combat in the European Theater, Charles was stationed in Gainesville, TX with the 103rd Infantry until he departed for England in 1944. A few days following June 6, 1944, as a part of the ongoing allied beach invasion, Charles’ craft landed in a harbor south of Omaha Beach. Fortunately, his group met little resistance as the US Third Army, under George S. Patton, began its eastern march towards Berlin.
Charles commanded an artillery attachment to support infantry companies as he was called on the soften Germany holdings prior to the allied foot soldier advancement. Lt. Henson was proud of the ability to register the M101 (105mm) Howitzers as he often served as a forward observer for his unit.
My favorite WWII story regarding Charles’ service comes as the war in Europe is winding down. The world famous Austrian Lipizzan Stallions had been moved by the Nazis from Vienna to a breeding farm in Hostau, Czech., east of Berlin. Apparently, the Nazis had acquired a large number of the best of many breeds as they took over vast areas of Europe. The Russian Red Army was only 60 miles away and moving towards Berlin. Patton, afraid that the equines might become rations for the Russian soldiers, ordered these 250 magnificent animals to be returned to Austria. With the assistance of the freed Polish and Czech POW’s and some of the surrendering German veterinarians, Col. Reed and his troops walked them 130 miles back to the safety of the allied forces. Charles played a part in this great rescue as his unit helped protect the perimeter around Hostau from the Red Army as these animals were being relocated. Today, their offspring continue to perform and be enjoyed by thousands around the world.
Charles returned to the states in 1945 and graduated Georgia Tech. He and Sue were married in 1947 and raised their three daughters in Monroe. Charles entered the family business, as the Henson Manufacturing Company (marketing under the Red Fox label) relocated from Lawrenceville to Monroe.
As we all know, Charles loves his retrieving dogs and you will always be greeted by one or two that live in the Henson’s backyard.
Harry Burress was born October 26, 1923, in Waukegan, IL. His father was career U.S. Navy and was transferred to south Florida when Harry was a young boy. He graduated high school in 1941 and attended the University of Florida for one year.
Harry joined the Army in 1942 and was called to active duty in 1943. He served as an Army MP in Europe and was stationed in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany following D-Day. His unit was heavily involved with guarding surrendered Nazi prisoners. Harry was discharged as a Corporal in 1946 and returned to the U of Fla. where he graduated in 1949. While completing his degree at the university, he joined the Army reserve and retired as a Major in 1983. As a civilian, he choose the insurance industry for a career and retired from CIGNA insurance in 1985.
Harry’s favorite pastime is traveling anywhere in the world. As an Army retiree he has traveled space available on military planes to Hawaii, Europe and Asia, etc.
He married the former Melrose Andre in 1946. The couple has a son, Glenn, who resides in Social Circle, and a daughter, Susan, who teaches for the DOD outside Frankfort, Germany. They have one grandson, John Carter.
Please thank these heroes for their bravery and service any time you have an opportunity. Today, this Greatest Generation is one of the main reasons we enjoy the freedom and liberties of this wonderful country.