Honoring Charles Snearly Jr.
Honoring Charles Snearly Jr.
A Veteran's Day tribute to my father:
Charles L. Snearly, Jr., was born in Henrietta, Texas on April 18, 1923. After graduating from Henrietta High School, he attended Texas A&M University, where he joined the United States Army Enlisted Reserve on June 23, 1942. He went on to active duty at the Engineer Basic School at Fort Belvoir, VA in October 1942. After finishing Basic training he went to Officer Candidate School at Fort Belvoir and graduated as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1943. He was assigned to the 1st Engineer Regiment (Airborne) at Westover Field, MA.
In January 1944 Charles was sent to Richmond Field, VA to help organize and train the 806th Engineer Aviation Battalion. They were sent to Vancouver Barracks, WA and then on to Wheeler Field, Hawaii.
The 806th was a construction battalion and he was the Motor Officer in charge of all dump trucks, bulldozers, cranes, power shovels, graders, generators, etc. Charles was sent with 12 senior sergeants and all construction equipment to Saipan where he landed on 0-Day. They unloaded the equipment and were ready to start work when the rest of the battalion arrived several weeks later. The 806th built roads, a fighter field, a B-24 field and various other projects but their main job was to build a B-29 field so U.S. bombers could begin bombing missions as soon as possible.
In April 1945 the 806th landed on le Shima just across the channel from Okinawa. Charles was very near Ernie Pyle, the famous war correspondent, when he was killed. Two days later the 806th was sent to Okinawa to begin construction on roads and an airfield. General Joseph Stillwell was sent to Okinawa to take command of the 1Oth Army in preparation for the invasion of Japan. General Stillwell loved to ride the bulldozers and often did so in spite of the objections of his staff. Immediately after the fighting stopped in August 1945 it was learned that the Japanese diplomats who were going to Manila to arrange peace terms with General MacArthur would change from a Japanese plane to an American plane on le Shima. Several thousand went to le Shima to witness this transfer and when the American plane took off they realized the war was finally over. Charles came home in March 1946. Major awards received were the Asiatic Pacific ribbon with 2 battle stars, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Chinese Liberation Medal from the Chinese Government. Charles Snearly retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after 40 years, nine months and 26 days of service which included four years of active duty with two years of foreign service. During that time the positions he held included Motor Officer, Rigging Instructor, Demolition Instructor, Supply Officer and Maintenance Group Commander and the places he served included Fort Sill, OK; Camp Wolters, TX; Fort Bliss, TX; Fort Belvoir, VA; Richmond Air Base, VA; Westover Field, MA: Bradley Field, CT; Wheeler Field, HI; Schofield Barracks, HI; Eniwetok, Marshall Islands; Saipan, Marianas Islands; Okinawa, Ryukus Islands; Korea, Japan, Philippines and China.