CHARLES RAY FEATHEROLF
Branch: U. S. Army
Rank: Private First Class
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: WWII
Home Town: Itasca Township
1. Coat of Arms of 137th Infantry Regiment 2. Charles Featherolf’s headstone in Greenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids
Charles Ray Featherolf was born in Lake Itasca, Minnesota on September 17, 1918 to parents Ed Tilman and Mary Etta Young Featherolf. The Featherolfs were originally from Ohio but Ed filed on a 40-acre homestead in Section 23 of Itasca Township, just two miles north of Wegmann’s store, and the family moved there some time after 1910. Ed and Mary Etta’s family included three children when they moved to Minnesota: Gale, born in 1901, Mabel, born in 1907, and Jay, born in 1910. Another daughter, May, lived only a year and was buried in Hartford, Ohio. Charles Featherolf, the youngest, was born after the move to Minnesota.
The Featherolf children attended a country school at Itasca Park through the eighth grade. Charles then went to work on his dad’s farm. He was working at William Lang’s saw mill when he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940. He stated that he was 5’8” tall, weighed 142 pounds and had blue eyes and brown hair.
Charles’ headstone application states that he enlisted January 1, 1941. He was placed with the 137th Infantry Regiment, 35th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion. That regiment arrived at the front line in Normandy on July 8, 1944. There, the 137th took part in the Battle of Saint-Lo, where savage fighting among urban streets and dense hedgerows caused numerous casualties. The first attack the 137th made was on the morning of July 11, 1944. The next day they moved toward the town of St. Gilles with Charles’ 3rd Battalion in the lead. The entire regiment continued to attack almost every day against the strong German positions, suffering many casualties, but driving the enemy back slowly but surely. They continued to advance through heavy fighting and pushed the enemy back, south and east from Saint-Lo.
On August 6, 1918, the regiment got a break from the fighting. Since arriving in France, the 137th had suffered 1,183 casualties with 177 killed, 946 wounded and 40 missing in action. PFC Charles Featherolf never got to enjoy the break. He was killed in action the day before – August 5, 1944.
Charles’ mother and father were informed of his untimely death and his body was shipped home for burial. He was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Park Rapids in the family plot, where his mother ordered a flat granite veteran’s headstone for him. He was 25 years old.