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‘Better late than never’

PRINCETON — It all began almost 70 years ago.

Charles “Charlie” Doty of Princeton was drafted into the Army in January 1943. He entered the service at Scott Field in St. Louis, where he began basic training. From there he was sent to lndiantown Gap, Pa., and was then assigned as a “stevedore” loading and unloading ships.

Doty didn’t like that much, so he asked for a transfer to another job. He was sent as a replacement to Arzu, Africa, where he was assigned to the 3497 Ordnance Co. While there he was tasked with repairing and maintaining all sorts of rolling equipment.

From there, Doty was sent on an LST (landing ship tank) to Sicily on July 9, 1943, and from there, to Naples, Italy, until November 1943. He moved again to Glasgow, Scotland, and moved yet again to England, where he prepared for the invasion of France. There he was part of Operation Tiger.

During this training exercise, there was a miscommunication where there were no ships protecting the LSIs in this operation. German torpedo boats proceeded to sink several of the ships, including the one that Doty was on. Official reports showed that 749 died during the torpedo boat attack. The survivors were strictly informed this disaster must never be talked about. It was only a few short years ago that Operation Tiger was declassified, and it was allowed to be discussed.

On June, 6, 1944, D-day, Doty was part of the group at “H” hour landing at Utah beach, where he worked repairing many pieces of equipment during his time there. Later he was sent to Cherbourg, France, when the Germans surrendered at the end of the war.

Doty was discharged from the Army on Nov. 20, 1945. He went on to own and operate Doty Implement in Dover for many years.

But some things are not forgotten ...

In August of last year, Doty received a letter and a medal from the French consulate in Chicago. He was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honor medal. It is the highest award that France can bestow on those who helped France become free from Nazi rule.

It did take 69 years before Doty received this medal, but, as he said,” Better late than never.” Charlie said he is very proud of the award.

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