Naval History and Heritage Command

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Charlton (T-AKR-314)

1999–

First U.S. Navy ship named in honor of Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton who was a U. S. Army soldier killed in action during the Korean War and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions near Chipo-ri, Korea on 2 June 1951.

Cornelius H. Charlton was born on 24 July 1929 in East Gulf, W.V. After graduating from James Monroe High School in the Bronx, New York City, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946.

Upon completing basic training, Charlton was assigned to the occupation forces in Germany where he served out his entire enlistment. After reenlisting, he was assigned to an engineering battalion at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Aberdeen, Md.

In 1950, Charlton was assigned to the occupation forces in Japan and was given an administrative job on Okinawa with an engineering group of the Eighth Army. However, he sought action in the Korean War and requested a transfer to a front line unit there. He was subsequently assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division. Charlton was made a squad leader in the 3rd Platoon and in May 1951 was appointed the platoon sergeant.

On 2 June 1951, Company C moved to capture Hill 543 near the village of Chipo-ri. Charlton’s platoon was attacking heavily defended Chinese positions on commanding ground when their commander was wounded and evacuated. Sgt. Charlton then assumed command, rallied the men, and spearheaded the assault against the hill. Personally eliminating tweo hostile positions and killing six of the enemy with his rifle fire and grenades, he continued up the slope until the unit suffered heavy casualties and became pinned down. Regrouping the men, he led them forward only to be forced back by a shower of grenades. Despite a severe chest wound, Charlton refused medical attention and led a third daring charge that carried to the crest of the ridge. Observing that the remaining emplacement that had retarded the advance was situated on the reverse slope, he charged it alone and was mortally wounded by a grenade. He continued to fire upon the position, which finally eliminated it, routed the defenders and saved much of his platoon.

Charlton was interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

(T-AKR-314: displacement 62,644; length 950'; beam 106'; draft 34'; speed 24 knots; complement 30 civilian and 5 active duty; class Watson)

Charlton (T-AKR-314) was laid down on 4 January1999 at San Diego, Ca., by National Steel & Shipbuilding Company.; and launched on 11 December 1999. She entered non-commissioned U.S. Navy service with the Military Sealift Command (MSC) with a primarily civilian crew on 23 May 2000. A non-combatant Large, Medium-Speed, Roll-on/Roll-off (LMSR) vessel, Charlton and other ships of her class are used to pre-position tanks, trucks, various wheeled vehicles and supplies needed to support an army heavy brigade. She is assigned to Afloat Prepositioning Ship Squadron Four.

On 2 August 2015, Charlton, along with Soderman (T-AKR-317) and Dahl (T-AKR-312) of Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron (MPSRON) 3 began assisting the people of Saipan recover from the destruction of Typhoon Soudelor, a Category 2 typhoon that devastated the island. MPSRON 3, that typically anchors four or five ships off Saipan and provides heavy equipment and supplies for the U.S. forces supporting contingencies and operations in the Pacific, supported delivery of much needed water and  ice to the citizens of Saipan when all public services on the island were inoperable. Ships in the squadron have the capability to create upwards of 20,000 gallons of potable water per ship per day.

Detailed history under construction.

Paul J. Marcello

23 December 2015

Published: Mon Dec 28 08:59:14 EST 2015