Wilfred “Ed” (“Buster”) Charron, 99, died peacefully in his home surrounded by friends and family on June 18, 2019.
He is survived by his wife Betty.
A skilled cabinetmaker and a longtime resident of Barrington, Ed was a survivor of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II and a recipient of two Purple Hearts and the nation’s third highest military award, the Silver Star.
Ed was known by many as one of the most talented cabinetmakers in Rhode Island. In the ‘50s, when in charge of the carpenter shop at the Federal Products Co., he began a sideline job as a cabinetmaker, and shortly after opened his own shop. Many Bristol County homes and businesses bear his handiwork. He was active with the board of directors of the RI Builders Association for many years.
Ed’s first job (six days a week for $9 pay) was as a sweeper at one of Fall River’s textile mills. He left Durfee High School at 16 to help support the family, but he soon left. “My mother was shocked when I quit since we needed the money,” he said. “But within a couple of hours I got a job for $10 as a counterman at a lunch café with one free meal a day thrown in, so she was delighted.”
Ed enlisted in the Army in 1942 and trained as a medic. In December 1944 his unit was near the Belgium border in the Hurtgen Forest when Germany launched its surprise offensive. Ed recalled: “The Bulge battle was fought in a forest, so the foxholes didn’t afford much protection. The incoming shells hit the tops of trees and exploded in the air, scattering shrapnel rather than exploding on the ground.”
Ed was wounded twice in March 1945 when his Division, in fierce fighting at the Ludendorff Bridge, crossed the river Rhine. Hit with shrapnel on March 3, he convinced his medic colleagues to treat him at the first aid station and he returned to his unit. He was hit in the leg with shrapnel 17 days later.
The story of Ed’s Silver Star is best told by its citation: “For gallantry in action on March 1, 1945, in the vicinity of Hausen, Germany. When his company came under heavy enemy fire and suffered heavy casualties, Charron, with complete disregard for his own safety, ran from one wounded man to another to administer first aid.”
“Though knocked to the ground by the concussion of a shell which landed near him and killed his companion, he remained in the open treating the casualties. When the company moved on he stayed behind to continue the work and for caring for all the wounded, he led to the rear those who were able to walk. His personal courage, devoted loyalty to his comrades, and aggressive actions are in accordance with the highest military tradition.”
After they married in 1954, Ed and Betty moved to a small farmhouse in an old apple orchard on New Meadow Road. Over the years Ed added to the original house, which was home not only to their sons, Brad and Paul, but also to Ed’s and Betty’s mothers for many years.
A few years ago, Ed participated in an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, with 12 other Rhode Island vets from World War II. Known to neighbors as the “wise old owl,” he was always willing to lend a helping hand to his community.
His funeral will be held Saturday June 22,2019 at 8:30 am from the SMITH FUNERAL and MEMORIAL SERVICES, 8 Schoolhouse Road, Warren, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00am in St. Luke Church, 108 Washington Road, Barrington.
Burial with Military Honors will follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 550 Wampanoag Trail, East Providence.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend.
Calling hours are Saturday Morning from 8:30-9:30 am.