WWII veteran Charlie Hennessee has lived on his Athens, Tennessee farm most of his life
ATHENS, Tenn. —
A lot has changed since the 1940's. But there are some things that have been here the whole time.
Charlie Hennessee lives on a farm in Athens, Tennessee. It's the same farm he grew up on. The only time he hasn't lived here was a few years during WWII.
Mr Hennessee was drafted into the Army in 1942. He was sent to Miami Beach, Florida for basic training
"I thought the Army was going to be the stuff, but I found out it changed right quick," Mr. Hennessee said.
On October the 15, 1943, he landed in England, and was assigned to the 9th Air Force as a supply hauler. That was 8 months before D-Day.
"I drove a two and a half ton 6x6 truck, and hauled mostly explosives," Mr. Hennessee said.
He said they hauled everything the 9th Air Force used as the Allied forces marched across Europe. Mr. Hennessee was driving supplies to the front lines
He would drive supplies in and then take German prisoners back into France. He did that until the day war in Europe was over. He says he'll never forget that day.
"It was great," Mr. Hennessee said. "We got out and used all of our flare guns, and all and shot them in the air."
That celebration didn't last long. A couple months later they put Mr. Hennessee on a ship to Japan, but before the first day at sea was over they announced instead he was going back to America. Japan had surrendered.
"They had a big meal cooked up when we got to New York, " Mr. Hennessee said. "A big band met us out in the ocean."
He came back to Athens and bought the family farm from his father but he described how he felt when he came home as a feeling of restlessness as if he was looking for something.
"I wasn't satisfied nowhere," Mr. Hennessee said. "I'd come here and stay ten minutes and go to town. In town there wasn't nothing there. I'd come back here. It took a long time to get over it."
He says at times the war was scary. He says he was surrounded for five days during the Battle of the Bulge, but finally made it out. Mr. Hennessee says he has always looked at his service like he had a job to do.
"I done my job and done the best I could," Mr. Hennessee said.
Charlie Hennessee has done a lot of different things since the war. He has farmed, trained bird dogs, drove a school bus and worked at Mayfield Creamery for eleven years.
He and his wife, Betty, have a big family. They have seven children, seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.
Charlie Hennessee is ninety-five years old.