Billy Charles

Sergeant First Class
Army of the United States
30 January 1938 - 07 February 1967
Cumming, GA
Panel 15E Line 005

196 INF BDE Army Ranger 1ST INF RGT
Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct (3 awards), Armed Forces Expeditionary, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

Airborne badge
Billy Charles in Korea

The database page for Billy Charles

24 Oct 2003

SFC Billy Charles was my friend in Middle and High School in our hometown. Billy enlisted in the Army at 17 years of age. He was in the Infantry and spent many years as a Ranger and instructor at the North Georgia Mountain Ranger School. After I enlisted in 1958, I had the opportunity to get together with Billy in Korea, and later on in Germany. Billy was a great soldier who loved his country and was a devoted father as well. Billy was the pride of Cumming, Georgia, and a hero to his entire nation.

Billy died when he was struck by the blast from a Claymore mine while he was moving his platoon beside a river near the Cambodian border. Billy was performing duty as acting Platoon Leader at the time he was killed along with two other members of his unit.

Another close friend of Billy's and mine, from our home town of Cumming, Georgia, flew Billy and other members of his unit to the landing zone. Captain Johnny Pirkle (Colonel, US Army (Ret)) was a helicopter pilot with the 25th Infantry Division and had been assigned the mission to fly troops to the LZ. As SFC Charles was starting to enter another helicopter, CPT Pirkle recognized Billy and after an emotional greeting, asked Billy to fly in his helicopter. CPT Pirkle was not aware that Billy had died until some days later when he was notified in a letter from his mother.

SFC Charles' daughter Susie Caraway from Cumming, Ga, received a trunk with her father's personal belongings from Vietnam during 2003.

Donald H. Pruitt, MSG US Army (Ret)

9 Apr 2004

During February 2004, Colonel John Pirkle (US Army Ret.), Master Sergeant Donald Pruitt (US Army Ret.), Herschell Fuller and Wallis Brooks, both former soldiers and friends of Billy, met with Ms. Mickie Pruitt, Billy's former wife, in Cumming, Georgia, to commemorate Billy's birthday and the 37th anniversary of his death on the battlefield in Vietnam. Colonel Pirkle was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam and flew Billy and other members of his unit into the landing zone a few hours before Billy was killed by a Claymore mine. The group visited the Veterans Memorial in Cumming and later went to visit Billy's grave in Gainesville, Ga. Stories and memories about Billy were shared by members of the group.

Donald H. Pruitt, MSG, US Army Retired

A Note from The Virtual Wall

PFC Bobby John Jennings of Sturgis, Kentucky, died in the same incident.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a friend from school and the service,
Donald H. Pruitt
Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired)
38 Azalea Drive S E, Cartersville, Georgia 30121 
24 Oct 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Channing Prothro, former CAP Marine
Last updated 04/10/2004