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Monday, July 28, 2014

Former resident writes about war experiences

Monday, November 5, 2001

(Photo)
She's a proud big sister. Sikeston resident Thelma Glover displays the book written by her brother, Charles Everett Bullard, formerly of Bell City.
CAMERON, S.C. - The battles of World War II have been told by the historians and by the high-ranking officers but there are few books from the average soldier. Charles Everett Bullard set out to change that by publishing his story and the stories of those who served with him in the 440th Troop Carrier Group.

The former Southeast Missouri resident has written "Little One and His Guardian Angel," which not only details his experiences flying as crew chief in the C-47 transport that dropped paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions and re-supplied the battle zones but also recalls his life growing up in Arkansas and Bell City, Mo., and after the war.

Bullard said in a telephone interview from his home in Cameron that for many years after the war he never thought about writing a book. Yet his wife and children encouraged him to put his story on paper to the point that after he mentioned writing a book his daughter returned with a word processor and "dropped it in my lap." So the book began.

"I felt like I had a story to tell that no one else but me could tell," said Bullard. "And if I had the story on paper then no one could take it away from me."

The 1941 Bell City graduate joined the Army in the fall of 1941. He applied to be part of the Army Air Force, he joked, because "I don't like to walk."

He added: "I was brought up during the Depression and I had a background of hard work. And I was very eager to learn to fly. The two of them went together (in the Army Air Force)."

Even his original crew chief saw that hard work ethic in him and when he promoted him told the young Bullard he knew a farm boy could do the job. Bullard's unit, the 440th Troop Carrier Group, 98th Squadron, participated in the Normandy, Southern France, Northern France, Rome-Arno, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe Campaigns. For his contribution, he received seven Bronze Stars and an Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.

"Most of my viewing of the world was out the back door of a C47," said Bullard. "I picked up that airplane new in Fort Wayne, crewed it every day for 18 months overseas and brought it back and set it down in Florida. It became a part of me."

Equally a part of him were the members of the five squadrons making up the 98th, especially the members of his own crew. "We were like a family and we still are," he said, adding that family is dwindling. He is the only surviving member of his crew and at their squadron reunions, fewer soldiers return each time.

"But I'm a survivor - I still have my guardian angel with me," he said referring to the book's title and his belief that his guardian angel enabled him to survive many close calls during the war.

His surviving comrades have enjoyed his book, Bullard said. He noted the widow of his commanding officer told him she learned more about her husband's service from the book than she did from her husband.

For Bullard's big sister, Sikeston, Mo., resident Thelma Glover, the book is a mixture of familiar reminiscences and some rather frightening war stories that she is learning about for the first time. She said her brother rarely spoke about the war when he returned.

"I didn't know anything until I read his book," she said. She admits she might have been even more worried about his time in the Army Air Force from Nov. 2, 1941, until his return to the U.S. on Sept. 3, 1945.

The stories he tells have filled her with pride. "It was a surprise that he decided to write the book but he said he just had to write it down so his ancestors would know about it. I'm so proud of him."

The book is receiving praise outside of his family as well.

In a review by Larry Jordan, an Orangeburg, S.C., Times and Democrat correspondent, he wrote: "This is truly a book written about the war from a much different perspective - from the fuselage instead of the cockpit. Bullard's story provides a different view of the air war that was fought over Europe which contributes to a fuller picture of the U.S. Armed Forces' effort in the war and would be a good addition to any collector's library."

Bullard, with the assistance of his wife, Sue, is busy promoting his self-published memoir. He has book signings planned and television interviews coming up but said it has been difficult to get major book-sellers interested.

The book is available directly from Bullard for $29.95 plus $3.05 shipping and handling. He can be contacted at 1235 Gin Bay Road, Cameron, S.C., 29030 or call him at 803-828-2711.