Charles Dunwoody — WWII Army Chaplain

On Day 4 of Military Appreciation Week I’m featuring an excerpt of a story of Charles Dunwoody who served in the Army in World War II.

Dunwoody’s entire story is told in my book, Battle of the Bulge: Stories From Those Who Fought and Survived.

Here is the Kindle version.

This blog is dedicated to telling about our amazing veterans to help us all develop a fuller appreciation of what they gave for us and to help preserve our military heritage.

Catch up on the earlier stories at this blog of other veterans. There are dozens all taken from my 10 World War II books and 260 interviews!

The entire month of May is Military Appreciation Month. Be sure to recognize veterans with a card of thanks, gift card or a visit. I’m sure they’ll love it!

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Charles Dunwoody served as an Army Chaplain in WWII.

Charles Dunwoody of Yorkshire, Ohio, was in his 20s when he was drafted into the Army in October 1943. He completed basic training at Camp Atterbury in southern Indiana and then participated in battle training with the Tennessee Maneuvers. “I wanted all of the combat experience I could get so when the bullets started flying, I’d be ready,” he said. 

At first Dunwoody was assigned to the infantry with the 83rd Division. Shortly after he arrived in Europe, however, a military chaplain asked Dunwoody’s company commander to have Dunwoody transferred to work with him. “I had grown up attending church with my family,” said Dunwoody.  The  chaplain had lost his assistant in combat.

At first the company commander didn’t want to let Dunwoody go. “I had good vision and after hunting squirrels and rabbits on the farm, so I was a good shot,” he said. In the end the commander agreed.

Military chaplains were not allowed to carry weapons but  assistants could as a means of protecting the chaplain and himself. Dunwoody carried a M1 Garand.

Dunwoody and his chaplain followed troops through Belgium, Holland, France, and Germany. The chaplain’s jeep pulled a trailer hauling a ‘suitcase organ.’ This small musical instrument sported a keyboard and pedals and could be folded up for transportation.

Charles Dunwoody plays a musical organ during religious services somewhere in Europe.

When conditions were appropriate (far from a battle site), the pair set up for religious services. Dunwoody played hymns, having learned to play the organ as a child from his mother.

One of the hardest parts of Dunwoody’s assignment was

writing letters to families of soldiers killed in action. “We couldn’t tell the family where their loved one had been killed or what he had been doing,” he said. “But we could say what a good soldier he had been.”

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Dunwoody survived the Battle of the Bulge and returned to his hometown to become a farmer and preacher. He lived to be 103. I interviewed him when he was 100 years old.

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