World War II veteran Charles Everett Estes holds a photo of his graduating Class of 1942 at Philadelphia High School. Estes and five other members of the class, along with another, boarded a train for San Diego the next year for basic training.
World War II veteran Charles Everett Estes holds a photo of his graduating Class of 1942 at Philadelphia High School. Estes and five other members of the class, along with another, boarded a train for San Diego the next year for basic training.


When World War II veteran Charles Everett Estes boarded a train  in 1943 with a handful of classmates for basic training in San Diego, he was a young and foolish 20-year-old.

He knew he was about to be drafted so he enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 12, 1943.

He and five other members of the Philadelphia High School Class of 1942 – Sharp Banks, Norman Gipson, Gipson Eakes, Jack Stribling and Dalton Harbour – along with J. D. Harpole, who graduated a year earlier, rode a train for three days to California.

“We thought we were going to set the world on fire,” said Estes, who will celebrate his 95th birthday in December. “When you are young and ignorant, you have big thoughts!”

After basic training, Estes then enrolled in radar school in San Diego.

Two weeks later he boarded the U. S. S. Shasta, an ammunition ship, where he worked as a radar operator, serving in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations.

“We didn’t have much combat since we hauled ammunition,” Estes said. “We were not on the front line. We were there for most all of the South Seas invasions.”

With his sharp mind still intact, Estes has lots of stories to tell from his 32 months aboard the ship, starting with the most scariest when they had to ride out a typhoon.

“In June 1945 we got caught in an typhoon,” he said. “That was an experience. The Navy had a supply fleet cruising out 600 to 800 miles off the coast of Japan. The fleet would come out to our ship and rearm.  We were waiting for the fleet and we got caught in the typhoon.”

Estes remembers how the ship rocked in the water.

One thing he looked forward to while serving in World War II was getting The Neshoba Democrat, his hometown newspaper.

“I got my Democrat and read that my brother Frank was in the Guadalcanal in the South Seas. I got liberty to go on the island when our ship anchored in the harbor.”

While he didn’t meet up with his brother that day,  Frank got to come aboard his ship the next day and spent time with him.

On another occasion, the U. S. S. Shasta pulled alongside the Battleship West Virginia to rearm.

“I knew that Sharp Banks from reading the Democrat was on the battleship so I went and spent a few hours with him. The paper was a real asset to me. Me being a radar operator, I had more privileges than a regular seaman.”

Estes said he was discharged from the Navy on Jan. 9, 1946, after the war had ended.

“I was discharged in New Orleans with a boy from Morton,” he said, noting that it took a while for him to plant his feet firmly on the ground after nearly three years on a ship.

Estes enrolled in what is now Mississippi State University in 1946 and graduated in 1950 with a degree in dairy science.

He later worked at the Borden Milk and Ice Cream plant for 35 years in New Orleans.

He and Mildred, his wife of 69 years, stayed in Metairie, La. for about 15 years after his retirement.

They returned to Neshoba County in 2000 and built a house in the House community.

“I stayed in contact with a few of my shipmates after the war but after a while that fell apart,” he said.

Estes participated in campaigns in the Aleutian Islands, on Saipan, Marianas Islands, on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands from February 1945 to March 1945; on Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, April 1945 to May 1945 and in the Philippine Islands.

He was awarded the American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze battle stars and the Philippine Islands Liberation Medal.

These days, Estes is pretty content at home with his wife. He still drives, however, and can often be spotted around town.

He pretty much shies away from the news on television these days, callings it “disgusting.”

He loves professional football but he's “not going to watch another game” if they continue to disrespect the flag, he said.

While he won’t be at Saturday’s Veteran’s Day program, he thinks it is a wonderful thing that the community honors its veterans.

“I don’t know many World War II vets as most I knew have passed away,” he said.

Estes was raised in a house on 444 Pecan Ave. next door to what is now the Pat Daly residence.

His parents were the late R.V. and Lizzie Estes. His father worked at Mars Brothers Grocery until his retirement.

His siblings were Marie Stribling, Cecil Wyatt and Frank Estes, now deceased.