Charles J. Sims
AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – Charles J. Sims
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian
Charles J. Sims was born in Natchez, Mississippi on November 22, 1919. He was raised with his four sisters in a well-populated area of Adams County. His father worked on both a farm and in a factory while his mother stayed at home to raise the children. His mother, sadly, died when Charles was only seven. Growing up, Charles enjoyed hanging out and playing with the kids from their neighborhood. At that time, his school did not offer sports so the boys would get together and play sandlot football and baseball. After completing the tenth grade, he decided to join the workforce and became a helper at Armstrong Tire and Rubber Co. All the while, he and his friends were considering joining the military.
Charles’ military dreams came to fruition when he received a draft notice. The 22-year old was sent to Camp Shelby, Mississippi to be sworn into the Army Air Corps. He was sent to Fort Lee, Virginia for boot camp. Before this, the furthest he had ever traveled was less than 200 miles away to New Orleans, Louisiana. He finished basic training and then was sent to tech training, where he learned how to drive a transport truck.
For his first couple of years in the Army Air Corps, he remained in the States moving around from base to base. His first assignment after tech school was Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Georgia where he only stayed a couple of weeks. His first lengthy assignment sent him to the opposite corner of the country to Walla Walla Army Air Base in Washington. He stayed there about eight months before receiving orders to Edwards Air Field, California. He had a couple more short assignments before being sent by ship overseas to join the U. S.’s efforts in WWII.
Charles was first stationed in Scotland where he stayed on base but drove as part of the convoy that would deliver supplies, such as ammunition and bombs, to the forces fighting in the area. He then moved to a small base in England and continued with delivering supplies until about one year after the invasion of Normandy. At this point, his troop was moved to France to begin making their way to Germany. Charles recalls how sad it was to see the wrecks, destroyed buildings and damaged roads.
After the war was over, he stayed in Germany and reenlisted. He stayed for a while until he was able to travel back home to Mississippi for about a month. He was lucky enough to stay stateside for the rest of his military career. While stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky, the separation of the Army Air Corps was occurring. As part of the newly formed Air Force, he was sent to Eglin AFB, Florida to continue driving trucks. While there, he was offered the opportunity to attend radar/electronics school. He began his training on long range guided missile systems at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. He loved the Gulf Coast area, especially because it was close to home. By this time he had the rank of Sergeant and his own vehicle so he was able to make it home to Natchez every few weeks.
Charles’ last duty station was in Great Falls, Minnesota. After 22 years of service, he retired from the Air Force as a Tech Sergeant. He decided to move to the Los Angeles area and began a civil service career working on a naval base in supply. After about 15 years, he retired from his civilian career. He left California about two years later and moved back to the Gulf Coast. For him, the convenience of the medical facilities, commissary, and exchange was a huge draw. He has been enjoying his retirement on the Coast ever since. He remains quite active by playing golf three days a week, bowling, playing pool and exercising. In July of 2014, he moved into AFRH-G because he was ready to slow down a bit, and also liked the idea of not having to cook or clean anymore. This year, Charles will celebrate his 99th birthday!