Remembering Charlie Gray Lewis, MIA
By Juanita White
Sgt. 1st Class Charlie Gray Lewis was an outstanding soldier with several attributes and decorations. He was part of the operations S-3 Team of the 1st Squadron, 17th Calvary, 82nd Airborne Division.
During the Vietnam War, SFC Lewis was assigned to Company D, 16th Armor, 173rd Brigades. On May 17, 1967, he was killed in action when the armored personnel carrier exploded due to a mine, while on a combat mission. SFC Lewis died while missing, but is listed among the missing in action, because no remains were recovered.
Charlie Gray Lewis was the son of Mr. Odie and Minnie H. Ormand Lewis of Pitt County, and brother of Sgt. Linwood Lewis of Washington.
Linwood remembers the day that his family received the telegram in May 1967, informing them that their beloved son and brother was missing in action. They waited patiently for another telegram to give them an update on the status of Sgt. 1st Class Charlie Lewis, something to let them know what his status was. Was he killed or captured? Or better yet, was he safe or injured? But after all these years, still nothing.
Linwood remembers the words his brother had spoken before leaving for his third tour in Vietnam. Linwood had just enlisted into the U.S. Army.
Charlie told Linwood, “As long as I’m in Vietnam you won’t have to go, and if I don’t make it back, you’ll never go.”
Linwood says that is real love. He also says that it is hard finding closure, with no real status of his brother — not having a body to bring home, no body to bury, never being able to pay their last respects at a final resting place.
This brave soldier was awarded several distinguished medals, notably the Bronze Medal and the Purple Heart, for his combat-related wounds.
We will never forget you, SFC Charlie Gray Lewis, for your sacrifice, for our country on May 17, 1967.
Juanita White is Commander of Disabled American Veterans Beaufort County Chapter 38.