Snyder, Charles W. (644th, 899th)

Charles W. Snyder 1Charles W. Snyder

Biography:  Charles William Snyder was born on December 31, 1919, in Columbus, Indiana. He was the seventh of nine children born to Isham Snyder and Emma Thomas and attended Columbus High School through the 11th grade. He then worked as a stock chaser prior to the war.

Service Time:  Charles enlisted in the Regular Army on June 25, 1940, and after his basic training was assigned to the Headquarters Battery of the 2nd Battery of the 31st Field Artillery and was stationed at Fort Ord, California for training. His official entry into the Army, U.S. was in October 23, 1941, at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Lawrence Township, Indiana. He was then assigned to Battery D of the 8th Battalion of the FARC (Field Artillery Replacement Center). He was then assigned to Company A of the 644th Tank Destroyer Battalion at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana. He traveled with the unit to Fort Lewis, Washington and then to Camp Hood Texas in December of 1942, where he was assigned to Company C of the 899th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

He continued to train until the unit shipped out from the New York port in January 13, 1943, and arrived at Casablanca, Morocco, on the 26th, where they were issued new M10 tank destroyers. They were deployed to the Gafsa-El Guettar sector, Tunisia, on March 16th.

They established the first American contact with the British Eighth Army on April 7th. They then arrived in the Naples, Italy, area on November 10th. They almost immediately shifted to the United Kingdom and acted as liaison personnel, accompanying the second glider lift of the 82d Airborne Division during the invasion of Normandy. The main battalion landed at Utah Beach on D-Day. and helped capture Cherbourg, France, in late June.

Supporting the Cobra breakout in late July, they advanced through Mayenne, and entered Belgium on September 2nd, where they backed the 9th Infantry Division’s operations in the vicinity of Monschau and Hofen, Germany. They then fought in the Rötgen/Hürtgen Forest region in October.

Elements of the unit were deployed in the first days of the Battle of the Bulge, to stop the German advance, while others remained in VII Corps area. They supported the attack to capture the Roer River dams in February, 1945, and most of the unit converted to the M36 tank destroyer that same month. Crossing the Roer River on February 28th, they advanced to the Rhine near Bad Godesberg where first elements crossed into the Remagen bridgehead on March 8th. The 899th joined the attack on the Ruhr Pocket in April, and then moved east into the Harz Mountains. Moving to the Mulde River for link-up with Soviet forces, which they achieved on April 27th, they finally began occupation duty in Bernburg on May 3rd.

Charles W. Snyder 2Charles received credit for five campaigns, including Tunisia, Naples-Foggia, Normandy, Northern France and the Rhineland. He was awarded the EAME and American Defense Service Medals, the Army of Occupation Medal and also received the Purple Heart Medal, per G.O.#10 of the 899th TD Bn, for wounds received on September 23, 1944. He also shared in C Company’s two Distinguished Unit Citations and left the service on July 28, 1945, at the rank of Sergeant  from Fort Lewis, Washington.

Charles was a civilian only briefly, because two years later, he re-enlisted on July 6, 1947. He started over again at the rank of Private beginning at Fort Knox, Kentucky for a refresher course with the 3rd Armored Division as part of Co. C of the 37th Armd. Infantry Bn. He later served in the 25th Signal Co., serving as a Signal Message Clerk during the Korean war and later in the HQ Co., 2nd Battalion of the 9th Infantry Regiment. He had served in many locations, including Japan, Korea and Germany. By the time he retired from the service on January 31, 1964, he had risen to the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the United Nations Service, the National Defense and the Korean Service Medals w/credit for seven campaigns. He also shared in his unit’s Meritorious Unit Citation.

While still in the service, on February 9, 1952, Charles married the former Mildred S. Chambers who was born in Jefferson County, IN, and was the daughter of George L. Chambers and Bertha Giddings. He later worked for the Reliance Electric Company, who specialized in gear motors and speed reducers, in Columbus, IN .

Charles W. Snyder 3Charles passed away on June 26, 1981, and was buried in the Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus, IN. I want to thank Charles’ great-niece, Sabrina Snyder, for providing the information and photos for this tribute.