Charles on leave in Garfield NJ prior to shipping out to the ETO
Biography: Charles A. Asztalos was born on January 23, 1923, in Garfield, New Jersey. He was the son of Karoly Asztalos and Bertha Kovacs and attended Garfield Public School #2 through the ninth grade. After leaving school, he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps and worked in a textile factory, operating a wool combing machine.
Service Time: Charles entered the service on July 7, 1942, and was initially assigned to the 1229th Recruit Command at Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was sent to Fort Eustes, Virginia, and assigned to Battery A, 4th AA Training Battalion, where he spent the next two months before being transferred to Camp Hood, Texas, and Company B of the Student Regiment of the Tank Destroyer School. After another two months, he was assigned to Company D of the 127th Training Battalion at the TDRTC (Tank Destroyer Replacement Training Center). In addition to his tank destroyer training, he also competed a course in auto-mechanic school.
On March 8, 1943, Charles left Fort Hood for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where he joined the 267th Field Artillery Battalion. It is unknown if he had requested the transfer to artillery or if the change was due to a personnel need in that area. He spent eight months there, receiving instruction in cannon operation, ammunition handling and enemy infiltration.
From November 1 until November 17, 1943 the 267th was temporarily assigned to Camp Van Dorn MS to participate in combined training with the 364th Infantry Division, which was an all-black unit. During that time, the 267th Commanding Officer, Colonel Hinsch was killed and two other officers wounded by a short round from an 81mm mortar. Major William B Collins assumed command on a month later and would command the Battalion throughout the war. On November 17, the 267th left Camp Van Dorn and completed a convoy to Camp Shelby where it conducted post maneuver training.
After completing a leave period in late November and early December, Charles reported back to the unit, which was now stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. It was there that he completed a night infiltration course along with qualifying as a Marksman with the 30 Caliber Carbine.
The 267th shipped out from the New York port aboard the Queen Mary on July 23, 1944. They arrived in Glasgow, Scotland, on the 28th and after a month of final preparations, were loaded on transports for the English Channel crossing. They landed in Normandy on September 2nd, equipped with the 240 mm Howitzer. This was the largest of the artillery pieces used by U.S. Forces in the ETO and was towed by an 18 ton tractor. They were soon attached the XII Corps of the 3rd Army.
Charles was promoted to Private First Class on January 1, 1945, and continued with the unit for all their actions in France, Belgium and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. They received credit for the campaigns of Ardennes-Alsace, Central Europe, Northern France and Rhineland. Charles remained with the unit until September when he was transferred to the 695th Armored Field Artillery Battalion before shipping home from Marseilles, France, on November 18th. During the voyage, the propeller fell off the Liberty ship they were aboard and they drifted until another ship arrived and gave them a tow. To reduce weight, the men were ordered to dump all war trophies off the rear of the boat.
Charles received the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the EAME Medal with credit for each of the units four campaigns, the Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp and the Good Conduct Medal. He left the service on December 17th, at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey with an Honorable Discharge.
Post-Army: Charles returned to Garfield and found work doing maintenance on heavy equipment in a plastic products factory. On October 8, 1948, Charles married the former Roseann Iozzia who was born in Paterson, NJ, and was the daughter of Pietro Iozzia and Josephine Blundo. During the war, Roseann had worked at the Wright Aeronautical Plant designing parts for bomber engines. She continued this work throughout the war. The new couple had four children, Ken, born in 1949, Richard in 1953, Robert in 1959 and Patricia in 1962. In his spare time, Charles enjoyed gardening and was also a member of the VFW and the Knights of Columbus.
After Charles retired, the couple moved to Zephyrhills, Florida. Charles and Roseann were married 61 years when he passed away on May 20, 2009. He was buried in the Florida National Cemetery, Bushnell, Florida.