|Birth: ||Jul. 28, 1942|
|Death: ||Mar. 23, 1969|
Quang Tri, Vietnam
Charles, or C.D. as he was called, was the son of two of my mother's best friends from their youth in 8th Street Methodist Church in Oklahoma City and later in Washington D.C. His mother gave birth to C.D. about 9 months before my mother had a daughter, Janet. C.D.'s mother used to joke that my mom told her she had a girl for C.D.
C.D. was a considerate young man according to my mother who said he came to visit her one day when he was passing through Oklahoma City as a teenager with some high school group. He stopped by, saying that "if my mother knew I was here and didn't come by to see you, she'd be really mad." I think he was just being considerate (but teens don't like to admit that).
C.D. was a 1Lt. USMC helicopter pilot in Vietnam, flying rescue missions mostly. He was on one of those flights when his helicopter was pierced by a bullet, probably fired from a sniper, and he was mortally wounded. He was the only person aboard who was killed. 1Lt Henricks was awarded the Silver Star posthumously for his actions that day with the following citation:
"The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Charles Drayton Henricks (MCSN: 0-102443), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a Pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE (HMM-161), FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in the Republic of Vietnam on 23 March 1969. First Lieutenant Henricks launched as Section Leader of a flight of two CH-46 transport helicopters assigned the emergency medical evacuation of two seriously wounded Marines from a company which was heavily engaged with a large North Vietnamese Army force in Quang Tri Province. Arriving over the designated location, he was advised by Marines on the ground that enemy emplacements were located northwest of their position, but that air strikes could not be utilized because of friendly forces deployed in the area. Observing that the zone was surrounded by 100 foot trees and was too small to accommodate his aircraft, First Lieutenant Henricks chose to evacuate the casualties by mechanical hoist, although he was fully aware that to do this would make him a lucrative target for hostile gunners. Quickly making his approach, he skillfully maneuvered his helicopter to hover above the zone and immediately came under a heavy volume of fire from at least three positions. Requested to turn the aircraft to afford a better field of fire for the starboard machine gunner, he calmly did so without disturbing his steady hover or interrupting the hoisting operations despite the harassment of the constant hostile fire. The second casualty was approaching the door of the helicopter when an enemy round pierced the cabin and mortally wounded First Lieutenant Henricks. His heroic and timely actions inspired all who observed him and resulted in the safe delivery of the aircraft and all aboard to a secure area. By his courage, bold initiative and selfless devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Henricks upheld the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
C.D.'s parents, Aletha and Charles Henricks, stopped at our home in June 1969. Doctors felt that Charles should get away for awhile, so they were travelling around the country. My brother was on 30 day leave before going to Vietnam, and Aletha told him "Bless you and I'll pray you come home safe." He did and my mother always wondered why we had been so blessed. Mr. Henricks never was the same it seemed like. I think he was happy to go to heaven to be with C.D. again. C.D, had been scheduled to return to the States soon, and was to be married a few weeks after that. His mom sent a beautiful poem out in her Christmas card that year that I think she wrote soon after learning of her son's death. I lost the poem years ago, but I remember that it opened with, "My son came to me in the middle of the night / A source of joy and pure delight."
Aletha visited me in about 1997 or 1998. We went shopping for antiques for her and her other son, Bill. She reminisced about C.D. and commented on his loss. I think she is happy at the reunion too.
I always wished I had known C.D. too, but they had all moved to San Diego long before I was old enough to know him. I do know that my mother loved his parents and him, and she mourned his loss. As a former Air Force officer, I salute him and honor him for his service!
Charles Dwayne Henricks (1921 - 1984)
Aletha Bernice Henricks (1920 - 2005)
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
San Diego County
Plot: 0, 2914-H
Maintained by: Sharon
Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Offi...
Record added: Mar 04, 2000
Find A Grave Memorial# 3406039