RIPLEY - Charles Atkinson, 92 years young, served his country from 1943 till 1945 in World War II and again from 1950 to 1953 in the Air Force. Atkinson cast an absentee ballot during the elections in 1944, after having his commanding officer sign the piece of paper, that was then mailed to Roane County, West Virginia. Atkinson’s father Homie Atkinson was a member of the Roane County Commission on which he served for 16 years.
During World War II, Charles traveled through Belgium, France, Germany, Nuremburg, Czechoslovakia and crossed the Orion River on a pontoon boat with a tank he drove with an assistant. Charles was the first to see dry land on the other side of the river.
Atkinson shared a story, “We were in Southern France, and General Esienhower was having a meeting with all the generals. After the meeting, General Patton pulled back and had us to sit in a field all day until evening. He had everything gassed up to charge, which was just what he did. We traveled 132 miles. I drove from 4:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. with an assistant driver who wasn’t allowed to drive. He’d sideswiped a convoy one time and the captain never allowed him to drive after that.”
Mr. Atkinson went on reminiscing, “I had a lot of good friends who didn’t make it, and one was Johnny Scott. Johnny used to say ‘Atk, think your going to make it back?’ I’d reply, ‘I don’t know I hope, Johnny.’ Johnny then said, ‘I got a feeing I’m going to make it back’, but he didn’t.”
Mr. Atkinson continued, “Every so often, the Army holds reunions, and the last one was in Indiana. At the reunion, a lady with a young man came and turns out it was Johnny Scott’s widow and son. So I spoke with them for a while. Johnny and I were good friends.”
Charles Atkinson not only has the title of WWII veteran but he now can proudly state he’s a member of the WV Voter Hall of Fame. In order to qualify to win this award, the voter must participate in 50 consecutive general elections. Jackson County Commission President Dick Waybright and Jackson County Clerk Cheryl Bright were on hand to present this accomplishment to Atkinson at his home in Jackson County.
Atkinson commented on receiving this award, “ I done my duty. You don’t vote and you have no right to complain. I always made it a practice to go vote.” Both county representatives congratulated Atkinson on this momentous achievement.