Charles W. Yinger
Charles W. Yinger died Tuesday, April 16, 2013, at The Brunswick at Longstown. He was 93 and had been the oldest living Tomb Guard for about 12 years. He joined the Army in 1936 when he was 16 years old. His mother had to sign consent papers. He stopped attending school after eighth grade because he thought it was more important to work. He tried to get jobs on farms and in mines to help support his family, but he had trouble finding work because of his age.
While at Fort Myer, Yinger rubbed elbows with key players in American politics and military. He said he saddled ponies for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s children and polo ponies for Gen. George S. Patton Jr.. He said he stood third in line during the president’s inaugural parade.
In 1939, he was assigned to the 14th Infantry and guarded the Panama Canal. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, he had a choice to go to Europe or to the Pacific to fight. He chose the Pacific.
President Roosevelt called for people to volunteer for a secret mission, which eventually came to be known as Merrill’s Marauders, in Burma.
Yinger was among the 3,000 Americans who fought commando combat, attempting to push out a much larger force of Japanese Imperial Marines and reopen Burma Road to transport supplies to China. Because American troops were out numbered, they traveled through the jungle on mules between battles and skirmishes.
Many Americans fought the 14-month mission while suffering from typhus, malaria and dysentery. Yinger was hospitalized twice.