PVT Charles Ray Hunton
G-Company, 506 PIR
101st Airborne Division
Circumstances of his death:
This is the official story:
Killed In Action on New Years Day Monday 1 January 1945 in Recogne, Belgium while on a reconnaissance mission in the town. Three men left the Company lines about 1700 hours and worked their way down the road. They advanced toward the main section of the town and at about 1745 hours there was a sudden burst of fire in the area they were to reconnoitre. The Company commander sent a combat patrol to investigate and they found the bodies of the three men with no enemy in sight. What exactly happened to the men was never determined.
This is the true story:
On the day of their death, Tuesday 2 January 1945, S/Sgt James West and Pvt Charlie Hunton from G-Co 506 PIR patrolled down the Route Madame towards the farm of Nestor Degives at Recogne. The Degives U-shaped home, which they rented from the d’Hoffschmidt family, served as a warm shelter as it had proved being useful as such before...Maybe the fine wine cellar/collection had something to do with it? Previously at Foy six Germans were captured wearing American uniforms. This stimulated the order to pull all the patrols out of Foy and Recogne and simultaneously cancel the ones that were scheduled the following days. Result: anyone coming from the North toward the US lines could only be German, no matter how they were dressed they would be shot without a challenge. West and Hunton knew about the order but they started to descend from the high-ground anyway. At own risk. To secure a safe return, both daredevils explained their mission to a member of H Co 502 PIR at his Observation Post opposite of the Route Madame and they mentioned to return within a twenty minute time frame. While both were warming up at the Degives’, the trooper at the OP had been replaced by a young recruit, who strictly digested the order of firing without a challenge. At the Route Madame, S/Sgt James West and Pvt Charles Hunton died by friendly machine gun fire.
The helmet that belonged to Charles
Inside of the helmet with name and "laundry No" H7873
Charles' remains were returned from the European Theatre in March 1949 on board the transport ship Haiti Victory along with the remains of two other North Hill veterans; Donald G. Heilman, and Edwin J. Crites. Charles is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery Akron, OH.
Charles left behind his mother Mary Hunton, two brothers, James and Joe, and one sister Jean.
He was 21 years old at the time of his death.