Charles Bruin Harrison was born on May 28, 1921, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York. His father, David, was 34 and his mother, Clara, was 37. He had two brothers David and Leonard. The Family lived in Rye NY for several years and Charles attended Rye High School.
Charles had enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces. Served during World War II. Harrison had the rank of Second Lieutenant. Service number assignment was O-664302. Attached to 94th Bomber Group, Heavy, 410th Bomber Squadron.
During his service in World War II, Army Air Forces Second Lieutenant Harrison experienced a traumatic event which ultimately resulted in loss of life .On May 29, 1943 he was one of the crew of the B-17 #42-29476 "Snafu" during a mission over France when they were shot down and crashed near Dinard. There was only one man who survived.
Pilot Lt Max Hecox and crew arrived in England on 12th, May 1943, « SNAFU » was the name of their bomber B.17 serial 42-29476 and they had flown five missions and Charles Harrison was navigator. On 29th May, a beautiful sunny Saturday of spring, the target was a German naval storage at Rennes. It was an important day for the 8th Air Force which dispatched 200+ bombers over St Nazaire and La Pallice.
72 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress's of 94th, 95th and 96th Bomber Group flew at 25.000 feet towards the their target (Rennes). SNAFU belonged to the 94th Bomber Group, 410th Bomber Squadron. With the Hecox crew was an eleventh man, a Major Barthold as observer. The wave of bombers was escorted by 72 P.47 Thunderbolts and 48 Spitfires but only as far as the French coast.
A soon as they were over the ennemy territory, they were attacked by the fighters of the Luftwaffe. At 1630 hrs (G.M.T.), SNAFU was under attack and was hit… The radio operator Sgt Herman Philbeck would remember all his life, the last minutes of the death of his friends, his oxygen mask on fire, his ejection of the breaking down B-17. Herman recovered from his unconsciousness and pulled out his parachute. He was made PoW. The rest of the crew was not so fortunate.
Charles Harrison, 21 years old, was killed when his B-17 was shot down and crashed near Grands Beziers, Les Champs-Geraux, 15 miles South of St Mako, France on May 29, 1943. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.
Charles B Harrison remains were returned to the U.S. and he is buried at Long Island National Cemetery, East Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York. This is a National American Cemetery administered through the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
Crew of the SNAFU
MIA Rennes navy yard 29/5/43 Pilot: Max Hecox, Co-Pilot: Roland Vanderhook, Navigator: Chas Harrison, Bombardier: Ron McCoy, Radio Operator: George Coates, Ball Turret Gunner: Harry Symonds, Waist Gunner: Fred Snell, Waist Gunner: Gene McCoy, Tail Gunner: Joe Tashjian (9KIA); Engineer / Top Turret Gunner: Herman Philbeck (POW). Enemy aircraft, crashed Grands Beziers, Les Champs-Geraux, 15 miles S of St Mako, Fr. No MACR.