In March of 2015 I received an e-mail from Charley Henson, a 92 year-old veteran of World War II who had served in the Merchant Marine before and at the beginning of America's involvement in World War II, and, when drafted into the United States Army later in the war, served an an M.P. in Europe and in the United States.

Charley had found my website after doing a search in one of the ships he sailed on before Pearl Harbor, S.S. India Arrow, was sunk by a German submarine on February 4, 1942 approximately 30 miles off the Jersey shore. As on of the sailors who was lost that day, Nicholas Hetz, was from Camden, there are a number of pages on this website concerning the S.S. India Arrow.

Charley asked me to telephone him, and when a 92 year-old World War II vet asks for a phone call, you make that call without delay. We had a nice conversation, and he e-mailed me the two documents that he had written describing his experiences before, during and after World War II which make up the content of this web-page. One of the documents is in the form of a letter written to his son, Charles Ray Henson. 

I have cleaned up some punctuation and some spelling, other than that, what you are about to read is pure Charles Henson. I am honored to be able to present his recollections, which provide an insight to a world and a life quite different than that of today.

You can e-mail Charley here:

Phil Cohen
March 14, 2015

Memories Before Pearl Harbor

In the year 1938 I was a 15 year-old boy who was still living in the Great Depression as those years were called. Jobs were practically non-existent and times were hard, to say the least. I loved to go sit at the old Port Arthur drawbridge over the inter-coastal canal to Pleasure Island and wait for one of those beautiful ships called tankers to come by on their way to other places. I would dream of some day being on one of those beautiful ships and looking back as my world faded away behind me and then I would wait for the next one.

The family moved to Beaumont and we were only four or five blocks from the Magnolia refinery and the smells reminded me more than ever of the big tankers I loved to watch. I told my mother I wanted to go to sea and she took me to Port Arthur to talk to the Coast Guard who issued seaman’s certificates, and they still do. The commandant, a Captain Scott, said I was too young at 15 but (feeling sorry for me) he said if my mother would sign a statement that I was 16 he would issue the certificate. So I became 16 in a hurry.

My seaman’s certificate said I was a messman, wiper, or ordinary seaman. I felt like an old salt even though I could only look and wish at the big ships when they were turning around at the old turning basin (gone now) before docking at the refinery.

I went to the main gate of the old Magnolia refinery and spoke with the hiring master Mr. Jimmy Studdart who helped me fill out an application for employment. He said, he would help me if he could. (I will never forget him). There were always 15 or 20 sailors around the gate every morning and mostly they were a-b [Able Bodied Seamen – PMC] or oilers or those far above my little messman certificate. I was at that gate every morning for about three months. One day Mr. Studdart came to the door, looked right at me and motioned for me to come in. I was excited and scared at the same time. Mr. Studdart said, I have a spot for you as a Utility Man on the S.S. Aurora. Your salary will be 60 dollars a month. So, after an eternity, I was going to go to sea.

The memory of my first sight of that beautiful ship will be with me as long as I live. The colors were like Christmas. All the superstructure was painted fire engine red, the railings and life boats were white, and the ventilators and stanchions were green. The aurora was already over 20 years old and only about 350 feet long, but it looked like the Queen Mary to me. I was shown what to do by the steward who was over the steward’s department, which included utility men. Looking back, I was really just a maid like in housekeeping, but I was on top of the world.

That first trip down the Natchez river, under the rainbow bridge, thru the old drawbridge where I used to sit and wait, and on to the open gulf was a 15 year-old boys heaven. To think, I would get paid for doing it.

But the best was yet to come. We went first to Port Socony in New York where we unloaded and then the Aurora sailed to Aruba in the Dutch West Indies where we loaded a cargo of gasoline, kerosene and naptha. Then the Aurora headed for the Congo River in Africa where we were to unload at a Belgian refinery about 100 miles up-river called Ango-Ango. I just never dreamed that I would ever be so lucky. I was still only 15 years old and seeing the world. All this was still in 1938. There were still two more years and several more Socony ships to sail on all over the world before World War II came along and destroyed my dreams with the attack on Pearl Harbor. But by then, I was no longer “the kid”, as I was called by the older seamen. I was now a proud member of those wonderful men called Merchant Marine sailors. God bless them all. They, and Socony-Vacuum Oil Co. gave this 15 year-old boy memories that have lasted now for 92 years and will live in my memory bank for the rest of my life. God has been good to all of us who survived those years of peril called World War II and beyond. To Him and Socony Vacuum Oil Co., Mr. Jimmy Studdart and Port Captain Troy cousins, I give my thanks. God be with you.

Socony tankers I sailed on….

S.S. Aurora

S.S. India Arrow

S.S. Algonquin

M.S. Brilliant

S.S. Mobil Lube

S.S. Mobil Fuel

S.S. Eagle

It was while aboard the S.S. India Arrow in the South Pacific that I had a very close incident occur that could have changed my entire existence just prior to World War II.

I had signed 24-month articles on the India Arrow in New York prior to sailing to the South Pacific. We went through the Panama Canal and began running cargo from Sumatra and Borneo to Shanghai, China and Nagasaki, Japan. This we had been doing for about 18 months. The refineries were on Sumatra at Palumbang and Tanjanoban. Japan was already at war with china, and we could stand on the ship while docked in shanghai and watch the dive bombers drop their bombs on the villages across from us. We were docked on the Yangtze River about 10 miles from downtown shanghai. The afternoon that the U.S.A. and Japan broke off diplomatic relations, our radio operator received a message just before dark saying, ‘depart Shanghai immediately. Proceed to San Pedro Cal’. 

After telling the captain of the India Arrow, the crew was informed to sail now. Fortunately every one was aboard and we (the ship) sailed just after dark. About 15 minutes after dropping the pilot, a very bright searchlight hit us and a voice from a destroyer challenged us with these words-----“What ship?”

The captain replied, “India Arrow”.

The voice said, “where from”.

Captain, “Out of Shanghai”. 

Voice, “where bound?” 

Captain, “San Pedro California:

Voice, “What is your cargo?

Captain, “We are in ballast.”

After about five minutes of silence the voice said, “Proceed” and the Japanese destroyer turned and vanished into the night.

We could have well been detained and interred in China but god was with us and we left that area as fast as those old engines could go. I don’t think the Japanese wanted to ‘tip their hand that near to the Pearl Harbor attack.

Just another incident in the early lives of the U.S. Merchant Marine that the public never knew about.

Needless to say, I never returned to the port of Shanghai, China. But on the way home, we did stop a couple days at Pearl. No one ever thought that the beautiful scene of Pearl Harbor would soon become a scene of pure hell after the Japanese finished their attack on December 7, 1941. But you know that story and how it ended thank God, with the total defeat of the empire of Japan. Well, that period of my life from December 1941 to 1949 saw this grown-up Charley go from that 1938 boy of 15 become, with God’s grace, the man I am today. Only God knows how I made it through those hellish years of World War II without inheriting one of those little white crosses standing in just about every nation on this earth. They stand in loving memory of those whom God saw fit to take unto himself long before their time was up on this earth. God be with them now and ever more, and may their leaving not be in vain although it is beginning to look as though it might have been. 

Any way, in 1949 I left the U.S. Army military police as a staff sergeant and went to work on the Beaumont police department as a motorcycle officer. I loved it, but the salary just was not enough to support the family that God gave me. So, I returned to Mobil oil refinery as a security guard for a period of four years. But because of and for economic reasons, the company cut the entire department and contracted that department to Burns Agency for a lot less cost to Mobil.

On that note, Mobil Oil and Charley Henson parted company. But they gave me many wonderful memories which no one can ever take from me. I can visit the ships and places I have been any time I wish. I have sailed with the North Atlantic convoys to Russian ports of Vladivostok, Murmansk and Archangel. I saw the big navy tanker Salinas blown to bits by a torpedo that passed just behind the ship I was on at the time. I saw Aruba on fire after three German subs shelled them the night before we arrived, sinking a Texaco tanker which was tied up at the docks. On the way to New York after the Aruba attack, we passed the wreckage of the ship my brother was nearly killed on (the S.S. Ario). He suffered near death injuries from a German sub after being torpedoed and sunk. I did not know this at the time. I have seen the Panama Canal. I have seen the White Cliffs of Dover, England. I have seen the fortress of Corregidor. I have been on the Yangtze River in Shanghai. I have been to Nagasaki Japan. I have traveled the Congo River. I have toured The Suez Canal. In other words, thanks to Mobil and Socony Oil Company and the U.S. military, this boy of 15 has seen and traveled to every deep-water port on God's planet while growing up. What a trip it has been. 

As a military police motorcycle officer, I have arrested high-ranking officers of other nations. A Russian major, an English captain, and, Lieutenant Commander Charles S. Phinney who was over the navy base in Bremerhaven, Germany at the time. I was only a two-stripe corporal. But, I was acting for the U.S. Provost Marshall of the military police of the United States Army. It made a difference. I have had the honor of shaking the hand of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, fleet commander of our Pacific navy. Also, General Omar Bradley, U.S. First Army. Also, General Thomas Handy who took command of the Fourth Army after General Wainwright retired. My last year in the military was in the honor guard of one of the finest men I have ever known. Four-star General Jonathan M. Wainwright, Commander of the Fourth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. He was a survivor of the Bataan death march. We were the 62nd military police platoon where I held the rank of staff sergeant. 

My friends, looking back, I know that God held my hand every step of the way. He showed me the beauties of his creation and the pit-falls around which, He guided me during those years when I could not go it alone. I thank Him for it. I hope you enjoy reading this article as much as I enjoyed remembering those years of my life. May Our Lord be with all of you always. I pray that those years never repeat themselves, but it appears now that we will see more of those years if this nation don’t turn to God very soon. With out Him, we are doomed to absolute failure as a world.

Aurora My First Ship.

This is a continue of the article I wrote about the early days of my life as I remember them. I dedicate this to my children and their children as I pray they never have to experience days such as those I grew up in. But if the past is any teacher, they will. 

Back to my very first voyage after being hired as a utility man on the S.S. Aurora, my first ship. It was only 350 ft. long, and carried only 85,000 barrels of cargo but to me, it was more beautiful than the Queen Mary ocean liner. Its colors were fire engine red superstructure, with green ventilators, white lifeboats and rails, and the hull was dark gray. It was beautiful to me. Anyway, we sailed early that morning bound for Aruba in the Dutch West Indies to load a cargo of gasoline, kerosene and naptha which was to be taken to a port in Africa about 100 miles up the Congo river. This port was a Belgian refinery named Ango-Ango. It took two days to go up the river due to the strong current and no navigation aids. The captain had to drop anchor after dark and wait until dawn to proceed up-river to Ango-Ango. I saw many crocodiles lying in the sun along the riverbanks, and little African kids swimming in the same area with no fear at all. Who knows? Maybe the crocs were just not hungry or they did not care for dark meat? Also, after dark, I could hear all the jungle noises you heard in the old Tarzan movies. It was an experience I will never forget.

My duties as a utility man, which was under the stewards department, were to help the cooks, like peeling potatoes, cleaning the officers state rooms and other odd jobs where ever I was needed. It was in out of the weather like rain and cold. So, I did not mind it.

Over the years I worked up to steward and had my own department. I loved it. I remember my trips into the Middle East and going through the locks of the Suez Canal. It was so hot there that ships carrying cargos like butane and propane had to paint their decks silver in order to reflect some of the heat. I know the conditions the American troops are going thru today. I still don’t know why we are involved in that hellhole anyway.

During the years of World War II, I saw service all over the world. Many trips into the Mediterranean, North Atlantic convoys to Russian ports like Murmansk, Vladivostok, and Archangel. And plenty of German attack aircraft who shot back when shot at. But then, so did the armed merchant ships. One convoy I was in was when the navy tanker Salinas was hit about 100 yards from us. While standing on the fantail of our ship, one of the guys suddenly said, damn, look at that. He had seen a torpedo pass just behind us and it went straight to the Salinas broadside amidships. It blew that loaded tanker in two and there was fire everywhere. Needless to say, no merchant ships could even try to assist them. Only the Navy escort destroyers and others went to save whatever they could. The convoy continued on course. A lot of navy guys died that day. We were out of Iceland bound for Russia. The ship I was on made it. So, here I am.

I was fortunate to have made six trips through the Panama Canal on trips to the West Coast and South Pacific islands. Also, before Pearl, I was on a ship (S.S. India Arrow) where we traveled from the islands of Borneo and Sumatra for oil which we took to Shanghai, China, and Nagasaki, Japan and other South Pacific ports. Never dreaming that war was just around the corner. There I was, just a kid and only God knows how or why I was spared and continue to be, all these years. 

I had a sweet little friend in Shanghai named Lucy Wong and I ask her once, “Lucy what will become of you?” and she replied, “By and by Japanese come, then no more Lucy Wong”. She knew. Her fate was sealed. This was during the years of 1940 and 1941. Japan was already at war with China and we could see their dive bombers dropping bombs on the settlements across the river from where we were docked. This was on the Yangtze River. One night near midnight I was going back to the ship in a water taxi. It was dark, raining and there were 8 or 10 Chinese men in this little boat with me. It was about 12 miles to the ship. What kept me from being killed and thrown into the river, I’ll never know, and I was only 16 or so of age. Scary.

On the day that America and Japan broke off their diplomatic relations, I was on the India Arrow in Shanghai. The radio operator received an urgent message from the company telling the captain to depart immediately and to proceed to San Pedro, California.

So, we got underway and pulled out of Shanghai, China. This was about dusky dark. About 30 or so minutes out, we were suddenly challenged by a Japanese destroyer with these words “What ship? Where from? What cargo? Where bound?” After answering these questions, the voice from across the water said, proceed and the searchlight was turned off and we were allowed to leave those waters. It was a close call. We could have been interned or worse. And then, a few days later, came World War II. I was to return to the South Pacific islands many times during the war.

I remember one incident I helped with at Milne Bay, New Guinea. Tanker I was on pulled alongside the British battleship King George and refueled them. The next day, they were sunk in battle. While doing refueling I could hear the gunfire from ashore and I thanked God that I was on that ship and not in those jungles.

After returning to the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, I was on the S.S. Eagle going into Aruba. We did not know that three German subs attacked Aruba refineries the evening before. They even sunk a Texaco tanker which was tied up at the dock. Fires were still burning when the eagle arrived that morning. Once again, the evening before, about a hundred miles or so out of Aruba, we were contacted by a German sub. That apparently had no more ammunition after using it on Aruba, surfaced about 50 yards off out port beam. They stayed alongside us for about half an hour and then turned away into the night. We did not know at that point about Aruba due to radio silence.

Those subs sure played hell with Aruba. Oil tanks were burning and a torpedo from a sub was on the beach. A few Dutch soldiers went to pick it up with a flatbed truck and just as they got it on the truck, the damn thing exploded killing all of them.

It was during this same period that your Uncle Freeland was nearly killed when the ship he was on (S.S. Ario) was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of South Carolina. The Eagle passed the wreckage of the Ario on our way back to New York and we did not even know Freeland was one of the few survivors. Barely.

Well, I decided to give the Army a try so I was called up in 1943. I ended up being assigned to the 382nd Military Police Battalion in Europe. I know my time frames are out of sequence here, but when’s and wherefore’s are not important. It is the been there’s and the done that’s that count. So even I can’t put the correct dates on some of my memories. I may jump from Merchant Marine to Army and back again during this narrative. Just remember, it was one hell of a six years when it did not matter so much what branch of service we were in during any given time period.

I remember patrolling the highway N6 between Bremerhaven and Bremen, Germany after the hostilities had ceased and the Allied forces were occupying Germany. U.S. forces were assigned the entire Bremen enclave. The 382nd was the police force of all this. I was a corporal at the time, and one night while on patrol with my partner, we gave chase to a Mercedes auto, with a man and a woman in it doing far above the speed limit. After about five or six miles the driver pulled over and stopped. I noticed that he was a high-ranking navy officer by the gold on his cap and sleeves. A Lieutenant Commander no less. He approached me with fists doubled up and said, “Just who in the hell do you two jokers think you are?”

After saluting him I replied, “Sir that is not the question. We know who we are. The question is, who are you?”

This made him very angry and before the situation got out of hand, I informed him that he was under arrest and directed him to drive to the M.P. booking station in Bremerhaven. Upon arriving at the station, the Navy officer (Lt. Commander Charles S. Phinney) stormed up to our officer of the day and said, “I demand that you place these jokers under arrest of quarters for bringing in an officer”.

Our O.D. replied, “Sir, you don’t demand a damn thing here”.

After asking me what the charges were, our O.D. said, “Book him”.

And that was that. In the military police during wartime and under martial law, rank does not count when breaking a law. And Commander Phinney found this out.

While serving in the 382nd in Germany, with this same O.D., I saw two sides of this man. He always carried a Thompson sub-machine gun when on officer of the day duty. One night, while on duty and part of the emergency squad of six men, I was relaxing at the booking station when we got a call of a shooting at a local carnival the people of the city were giving for mostly the children. We had a list of wanted deserters the M.P. units were looking for. The M.P. on duty at the carnival spotted one of the black soldiers who was wanted for desertion. When challenged, the deserter fired a shot at the M.P. on duty. The M.P. fired back but missed, and his shot hit a little girl who was at the carnival. She survived. The deserter ran into one of the bombed out buildings and locked himself in the bathroom which was lined with tiles. 

We at the station responded to the call and upon arrival, the M.P. on duty showed us where the deserter was. This O.D., a first lieutenant, walked up to within 10 or 12 feet of the door and called out for the deserter to come out. His reply was, “You come get me”.

The lieutenant never said another word. He un-slung that Thompson and fired the entire magazine of 32 rounds of 45 caliber bullets into that door making an X. Then the lieutenant said, “Drag his ass out of there”.

Well, you can imagine what those 45 slugs did to him as they bounced off those tiles and into him. This was one side of the man.

About a month later, in the dead of winter, we responded to a call to the railroad yards where civilians were taking coal from the fuel dump. There was snow and ice everywhere, and old women and children, some barefooted taking coal to burn for warmth. I ask the lieutenant, “Sir, what do you want us to do?”

After a few minutes he said to me, “Not a damn thing. Let them have the damn coal or they will freeze”.

This was the other side of the same man. Compassion. God, what memories.

After coming home to the U.S.A, I was assigned to First Army headquarters on Governor’s Island, New York. I was given train duty from New York to St. Louis, Missouri, where we checked soldiers and service people for passes and proper papers. We made rounds with the conductor after each stop. One night my partner, who was about 6’5” and weighed about 250 pounds, observes a young army captain and his girl friend becoming very intoxicated. I was then a buck sergeant. I told the captain to tone it down and he informed me that he was an officer. I replied, “Then sir, act like one or else”.

Well, at the next stop, he became very loud and intoxicated. I again started to deal with him and he said to me, “You can’t arrest an officer.”

Well, that partner of mine had handcuffs on him before he could say scat. We had the conductor call for the police and turned the captain over to them and the military police. Again, rank is no defense when breaking the laws of the military. At least it was then.

One night while walking an enforcement tour in New York, I told a soldier who was slightly drunk to button his collar and pockets and he replied,  “I will take that night stick from you and stick it up y our a—“.

When he said that, “I unsnapped the billy club, threw it at his feet, then I put my hand on the 45 automatic pistol I wore and told him, “Mr., You don’t have to take it. There it is. Just pick it up if you want to, but that will get you killed.” Needless to say, he did not want my billy club. And, he buttoned his shirt and told me he was sorry.

First Army military police took prisoners from overseas to Green Haven, Connecticut federal prison under military guard. It was about 150 miles. We made up a convoy of a lead sedan with the officer in charge, then a jeep with armed M.P., then an armored halftrack with a 30 cal. machine gun and 300 rounds of ammunition. Then two busses with prisoners, then another armored halftrack, two more buses another armored halftrack, and a jeep with M.P. guards in the rear. My job was machine gunner on a half-track. I had three belts of ammo. Each had 150 rounds for a total of 450 rounds, or, bullets. I ask the O.D. in charge if we were to shoot if the prisoners tried to escape. His reply, “Only 450 shots.”

Well, thank God we never had to fire a shot. We delivered our prisoners safe and sound. Shortly after that, I got a transfer to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and the 62nd M.P. platoon where I finished my military hitch as a Staff Sergeant.

My last official duty with the 62nd Platoon was to escort an 86 vehicle convoy from Fort Sam to Panama City, Florida and back for maneuvers. It took us three days.

We could only do 30 m.p.h. and the only road then was old Highway 90. The first night we spent at the old fairgrounds in Beaumont. I stayed at my sister’s house. Next morning at 5 a.m. we pulled out toward New Orleans, our second leg. I sent 2 M.P. officers ahead to Orange to have the police ready for us. Old Uncle Ray was our police escort out of Beaumont.

When we reached Vidor there sat the two guys I had sent to Orange. They had been stopped by Constable Hop Williams for, he said, blowing their siren and flashing red lights. This of course stopped all 86 vehicles of the convoy on old two-lane Highway 90.

I called the O.D. forward and he asked Hop what the trouble was. Hop started to tell Lieutenant Walker why he had stopped the M.P. officers and that is when Lieutenant Walker jumped him with these words. “Officer, you move that damn car of yours out of the way or I am bringing up one of those wreckers and we will put that car up-side down in that ditch. Do you hear me?”

Well, old Hop stuttered and stammered and said, “Yes sir.”

Lieutenant Walker said to Hop, “Don’t you ever stop another military convoy. And for your information, these military police are federal officers. Do you hear me?”

Old Hop stammered, “Yes, sir”, got in his car and got the hell away from there. My two officers proceeded on to Orange. And old Staff Sergeant Henson and his 12 M.P. officers headed toward New Orleans, Louisiana with our 86 U.S. Army vehicles. Lieutenant Walker went back to sleep in his sedan.

On the return trip, one of my M.P.’s was hit by a drunk driver at Eleventh and Calder and killed. The Army sent me to Beaumont to get the information and while getting it, Chief Artie Pollack talked me into taking my discharge and taking a job with the Beaumont police department as a motorcycle officer which I did and I put in 8 years doing that. 

Once, while an officer, I fired my weapon once in order to stop an escaping felon (car thief) and ex-convict. I hit him in the foot and this really did stop him. Today I probably would be wrong by using too much force, but that is how it was in the 50s. I remember arresting a young guy once and I told him to drive to the police station. This he did, and when we got to the station I told him to go into the side door. He said to me, “And if I don’t are you going to shoot me?”

I replied to him. “Only God almighty and me know for sure. Do you want to take that chance?”

Well, he went on in and never said another word. Would I have shot him? Only God and I will ever know for sure.

After dark in those days, we would team up with our partner and ride double until 10 p.m. I had a partner named Henry N. Williams called “Bud”. One day about 6 p.m. I went by his house as he was eating his supper to tell him my radio was acting up and I would meet him at the police station. After arriving at the station, I was talking to the desk sergeant. When a call came in about an accident at Willow and Harrison involving a motorcycle. I went to the scene and found that the motorcycle involved was my partner Bud. He was hit broad side by a drunk driver who ran the stop sign and Bud suffered massive head injuries and only lived a couple hours more. It was very traumatic to me and every one else. I had just talked with him, and less than an hour later, he was gone. Again God showed me how short life can be.

Another time while working evenings, I received a call about a shooting on Broadway near downtown. It was just getting dark. Upon arrival I saw a black guy down on the grass of the house where the shooting occurred. People were yelling, “The guy who shot him is in the back”.

I looked and saw a black guy standing about 50 feet away holding a small chrome pistol. I drew my 45 military automatic and drew a bead on him while yelling for him to drop that weapon. I came very close to killing him. He dropped that pistol like it was hot. I have a picture of the one who was shot. I will never forget how close I came to killing him. And, 50 feet was no problem for me in those days. I could hit the bottom of a coke can at that distance. My military police score in the service was 286 points out of a 300 possible. I qualified as expert with the model 1911-A1 45 cal. Automatic.

My fondest memory of my days as a speed cop were when you would run to the door yelling, “Daddy, wait for me.” Then you would climb up behind me and ride to the street. God, what beautiful memories. You were so little and time went so fast. Edmond used to love flying his kite even when it was freezing cold. And Lorrie would hide her candy under the mattress till the ants showed your mom where it was. Only God knows how much we loved you children. This is what memories are made of. It is what keeps the future alive. Now Uncle Ray is gone. But his name will live on as long as you are alive. Your middle name is Ray after him. Do you remember him? He used to call you his little namesake. And now Jim is gone and Sis must adjust her life to the present. Lets hope she will enjoy a long and happy life the same as Edmond and you will do. God willing.

This narrative is but a very short segment of the life God has given me to do whatever I can for those He directs me to help. It is my purpose for even being here. I only pray that when my time comes to report to my commander-in-chief, He will say, “Well done my faithful servant, step into the heavenly home I have prepared for you.”

While on the police force, I met your precious mother on a Wednesday. I ask her for a date for that Saturday and she said yes. After I left the store where she worked, I thought, “What’s wrong with tonight?” So I went back and ask her. Again she said, yes. This was on Wednesday. Thursday we went to meet her family in Lake Charles and Friday night, we got married in Port Arthur at a minister’s house. As you know, she gave me 52 wonderful years of her life and you three precious children. Son Edmond Lee. Daughter Evelyn Lorraine, and son Charles Ray. Who could ask for anything more?

You see, God kept me here for a purpose. I only pray that I have done a decent job with the time I have spent.

Well son, I hope you will enjoy reading about just a very small part of the life god allowed me to have on this earth. And now, it is in your hands, and my other children and all their children to take up the torch and continue where my race ends. I am nearing the finish line, and maybe I don’t get a ‘first place’ trophy, but at least I was in the race. I did the best with what I had although looking back, I sure could have done better. But the awards are handed out by God and I will be thankful and grateful for whatever He hands me. May He be with you and Carol and all whom you love now and ever more. Amen.

Go with God my son. I love you all. These words are also meant for my daughter Evelyn Lorraine, and my son Edmond Lee Henson that I love the same. Consider this story as written for all three of you. You are the inspiration for it.

Charles E. Henson, your grateful and loving dad.

Please forgive all misspelled words. It is the meaning that counts, not the spelling. O.k.?