Fallen Heroes: Corporal Charles W. Newton

A Soldier from the 1st Cavalry Division, mans an observation post overlooking North Korean-controlled territory on the Pusan Perimeter, in September 1950.

Many of the men covered in this series of profiles were young men, in the prime of their lives, when war took them away from their friends and families. This profile illustrates that point better than many, the “young man” was barely a man when he went off to war.

The ancestors of Charles W. Newton (1932-1950) were some of the earliest settlers of Tuscarawas County when his great-great-great-grandfather Levi Newton arrived with his young family before 1818. Levi had brought his family from Massachusetts and originally settled in One Leg Township, Tuscarawas County. That township no longer exists and portions were incorporated into Carroll and Harrison Counties. Other parts of the old township also included parts of modern Warren, Union, and Mill Townships.

A few generations later Charles’s father, also named Charles (1903-1975) would marry Beulah Quillen (1907-1973) in 1926 and start his own family. The couple already had three daughters by the time Charles was born on October 6, 1932. Likely to avoid any confusion they called the younger Charles by his middle name, William, most of the time. The elder Charles, like many men his age, worked in the local coal mines while the children attended school in Uhrichsville. The younger Charles, like his older sisters, attended high school in Uhrichsville but did not seem to be particularly active in any clubs or sports.

Somewhere in this group picture of the 1949 Uhrichsville High School Junior class is Charles W. Newton. (Source: ancestry.com)

It is impossible to know what motivated Charles to make the decision to leave school during his junior year and enlist in the United States Army. Since he was only 16 at the time of his enlistment, that enlistment would have required the permission of his parents. Perhaps he was bored with life in Uhrichsville, was a poor or unruly student, had no interest in working in the industries then prevalent in the region, or simply yearned to serve his country. Whatever the motivation, Charles enlisted on January 4, 1949 and was sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky for training.

After his basic training Charles was assigned to Company A of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, at the time part of the 1st Cavalry Division. The division had, for the last four years, been responsible for the occupation and security of Tokyo in post-war occupied Japan. Regiments of the 1st Cavalry Division were scattered around the city and Charles found himself stationed at Camp King, near the American and Russian Embassies, and the Japanese Imperial Palace. Charles was in Japan about a year when, across the Sea of Japan, tensions and violence were building on the Korean Peninsula.

The region in Korea where Charles W. Newton was killed is outlined in red. (Source: koreanwar.org)

It had been only five years since the end of World War Two when troops from communist North Korea invaded South Korea and the United States decided to send troops to support the South Koreans. The 1st Cavalry Division was ordered to Korea in mid-July 1950 and landed on the beaches about 80 miles north of the port of Pusan. Charles, along with the rest of the 8th Cavalry Regiment, was moved to the village of Yongdong to relieve American forces already engaged with the North Koreans. It was here, on July 23, 1950, they received their first taste of combat in Korea. Though the division was forced back, their artillery fire enabled them to establish a defensive line. They, along with their United Nations and South Korean allies, were tasked with holding this stretch of what became known as the Pusan Perimeter.

Charles’s regiment suffered heavy casualties during the 50 days, until mid-September 1950, that they helped hold the North Koreans at bay along their extent of the Pusan Perimeter. It was not until after the American landings at Inchon on September 15, 1950, far behind the North Korean lines, that the division was able to take the fight to the North Koreans outside the perimeter. A few days later, on September 22, 1950, Corporal Charles Newton was manning a forward observation post. A North Korean mortar round found him, tearing into his neck and chest, killing him instantly.

It was not until June 1951 that his remains were shipped home from Korea and the family were able to hold memorial services. The Dennison VFW provided a military escort and ceremony in honor of the sacrifice of 17 year-old Charles W. Newton, a fallen hero.

Corporal Charles W. Newton’s headstone at Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville. (Source:https://www.findagrave.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2021.

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