Charles Dause "Snooks" Powers
386th Bombardment Group, 553rd Bomber Squadron
|By: Kelli Powers Britt
Marauderman's Name: Charles Dause "Snooks" Powers
Bomb Group: 386th Bombardment Group
Bomb Squadron: 553rd Bomber Squadron
Years in service: Volunteered for the Draft; Enlisted January 22, 1943, from Henderson County, Tennessee; Place of Enlistment: Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia; MIA on March 25, 1944; FOD on March 26, 1945.
Graduation Class: Graduated tech school on July 20, 1943
Class Location: United States Army 9th Air Force, Air Forces Technical School, Lowry Field, Denver Colorado
Comments: My Great-Uncle, Charles Powers, from Henderson County, Tennessee, volunteered for the draft at the age of 19 years old. He hoped to be a pilot, but after graduation from tech school, he was appointed as an Armored Tail Gunner with the 553rd Bomber Squadron, 386th Bombardment Group. His plane “The Minuteman” a B-26 Marauder, Serial No. 41-31775, AN-N, was piloted by Lt. Elliott Sanger Betts, Pilot and 2nd Lt. Leonard Ralph Burnett, Jr., Co-Pilot. On its 140th mission on March 25, 1944, destination France, the plane had taken enemy fire, and all of the crew members ejected between 2,000 and 1,500 feet, with the pilot being the last to eject at 800 ft. Most, if not all, of the rudder as well as one-third of the right wing were destroyed. Communication was received from Uncle Charles that he was injured with cuts on his head, arm, and legs. The plane went down over the English Channel, and the pilot and co-pilot landed close enough together that they were able to hold to each other’s dinghies. Voices could be heard from the other crew members calling for help three different times, but the sources of the voices could not be located. The four remaining crew members were lost at sea. The pilot and co-pilot were rescued three days later on March 28, 1944 floating in their dinghies. Uncle Charles’ status was MIA, and he was declared dead by a Finding of Death under the laws at that time, exactly one year and one day later, on March 26, 1945. He was awarded the Air Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Purple Heart. Uncle Charles was unmarried and had no children. His body was never recovered, but he is listed along with 461 others on the Tablets of the Missing at the Ardennes American War Memorial Cemetery in Nupre,’ Belgium.
Crewmembers: 2nd Lt. Elliott Sanger Betts, Pilot; 2nd Lt. Leonard R Burnett Jr, Co-Pilot; 2nd Lt. Robert E Curtis, B/N; S/Sgt John Bowan, E/G; S/Sgt Woodrow A VanDamme, R/G; and Sgt Charles D Powers, A/G. (Betts and Burnett survived; rest of crew died at sea).
Many years later, in September, 1977, one of Uncle Charles’ buddies, Master Sergeant Walter J. Milne, located my grandfather, Clifford Powers, in Henderson County, Tennessee. M/Sgt. Milne and his wife had traveled from New Jersey and showed up unannounced at my grandparents’ home. He had been friends and trained with and held the same position as my Uncle Charles from the beginning. As one was going out on a mission, the other would be coming in from their mission. They always had a pact that if one of them didn’t make it home, the survivor would seek out and visit with his family and tell them all he could remember about him and his military service. My grandparents called my dad and his sister, and they all visited with M/Sgt Milne and listened to him tell stories of their service together. In a letter he wrote after their visit to Tennessee, M/Sgt Milne remarked how he couldn’t believe how much my grandfather, who was four years younger, favored Uncle Charles. Attached hereto is a picture of them side by side, and the resemblance is amazing. Also attached are pictures of Uncle Charles, alone, and with his buddies taken in New York before they left to go overseas; his name listed on the Tablets of the Missing in Nupre,’ Belgium; and his name listed on the War Memorial Monument on the Courthouse Lawn in Lexington, Henderson County, Tennessee.