Charles Draper was born in San Gabriel, California back in 1901. When he was 18 he joined the Army, in 1921 he had already been promoted to sergeant. He was selected to attend the United States Military Academy graduating in 1926. After graduation, he served in the Philippines and Shanghai.
In 1942, he had advanced through the ranks, as a colonel he took command of the 116th Infantry shortly before it sailed to England. His command was alongside of the 1st Infantry and the 16th Infantry to land on Omaha beach on D-Day. If you’ve seen Saving Private Ryan the opening scene depicts the conditions under which Charles regiment landed on the Dog Green sector.
A Sergeant Bob Slaughter remembers Charles screaming at soldiers to move off the beach and go kill Germans. Don McCarthy remembers Charles walking upright in the face of enemy fire, he states “I got the hell out of there and moved forward. I was more afraid of the Colonel that I was of the Germans.”
What you may not know about Charles Draper Canham his that when he entered the headquarters of the Lieutenant General, Hermann-Bernard Ramcke to accept the surrender of the German Army, Hermann demanded to know the lower ranking Canham’s credentials as a condition of surrender. Carham pointed to the dirty and tired American soldiers he had brought with him to witness the surrender and said, “These are my credentials.” The New York Times, wrote, that statement of a combat leader the greatest tribute ever paid to the real power of the American Army, the individual soldier.