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Charles Mann
Charles Mann
Luverne, MN
Charles Mann was born on his family's 400 acre farm, 4 miles northwest of Luverne, on April 26, 1920. He was delivered by Jim Sherman's grandfather, "Doc" Sherman. He left school after 8th grade to work on the family farm. He was among the first group of inductees to leave Luverne after America entered the war.

Mann trained in Camp Walters, Texas, and became a rifleman, assigned to Company L, 60th Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. In the fall of 1942, he and his unit shipped out from Norfolk, Virginia and sailed directly to North Africa. In the early days of the campaign, Mann and his unit were sent up the Sebu River on a destroyer to seize an airport at Port Lyautey. The ship was fired upon by Vichy forces and ran aground several times en route. The concussive power of the destroyer's own guns firing back caused the paint on the ship's deck to crack and peel.

For the next few months Mann and his unit were kept behind the lines, but were finally put on the line in March of 1943, as the Allies began to push the Germans back toward the sea in Tunisia. One night soon afterwards, while on guard duty, Mann had a chance encounter with General Patton. A jeep approached with low running lights. Mann flicked his flashlight, and the jeep slowed down. Mann gave the password for the night, which was "George," and one of the men in the jeep answered with the countersign, "Patton." But it was the general himself, on his way "to see General Truscott on business."

On March 24, 1943, after a month of combat, Mann was wounded. His platoon was assigned to help take the treeless heights overlooking the village of Maknassy in central Tunisia. As they climbed, two Germans in a machine gun nest threw grenades down at them, which Mann knocked away, then silenced the Germans with his own grenade. But shortly afterwards, a sniper on Mann's left flank shot at him. The bullet shredded his rifle and shrapnel tore into his neck barely missing the carotid artery. He ran back 100 yards to a medic, who stopped the bleeding. He convalesced for 5-6 weeks and was then assigned to a quartermaster unit, as a truck driver.

Mann arrived back home in April of 1945 and married Verna Ahrendt, who had grown up on the neighboring farm. They settled in Luverne, had six children and he ran the family farm until he retired in 1969.