Lieutenant Colonel Charles Elbert Etter was born on December 6, 1913. He graduated from law school and worked as an attorney. He married Lillian Louise Thatcher in 1939 in Chattanooga, TN. His daughter, Charlotte White of Chattanooga, TN, was born on August 2, 1942. Etter joined the Army in 1941 and served as a colonel with the infantry in the European Theater of War. He was killed in action in Immendorf, Germany on November 18, 1944, and buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, The Netherlands (Plot: F, Row: 9, Grave: 21).

Historical Note: Lt Col Charles E. Etter was Commanding Officer of the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment. On the 16th of November 1944, the 41st was the spearhead of the 2nd Armored Division assault on the Siegfried line East of the Roer River and captured Puffendorf. As the 41st continued its push into Germany, it came under an intense artillery and mortar attack. LtCol Etter and the Executive Officer, Maj Charles Berra, were killed in this time period.

Picture from the University of Tennessee, yearbook 1937

The Chattanooga Daily Times, 30 November 1944
The War Department announced last night that Lt.-Col. Charles E. Etter of Chattanooga, who recently won a Silver Star for gallantry in action, was killed in action in Germany Nov. 18. The announcement was telegraphed to is wife, the former Miss Lillian thatcher, from the adjutant general’s office at Washington. “The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your husband, Lt.-Col. Charles E. Etter, was killed in action Nov. 18 in Germany,” the telegram stated. “A letter follows.”
The date of Col. Etter’s death was the same date that it was announced in The Chattanooga Times that he had been awarded the Silver Star citation. Col. Etter’s rise in the army was rapid. He enlisted as a volunteer in August, 1940, more than a year before Pearl Harbor, and about three months before the first national selective service registration. He was a member of the armored force and took his training at Fort Benning. At the time he volunteered, Col. Etter was employed in the Legal division of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Etter of Nashville, and formerly of Chattanooga, Col. Etter was educated at the Chattanooga High School, the University of Tennessee and the Chattanooga College of Law. Only recently did he get his promotion to lieutenant colonel. At the time he won his Silver Star, he was a major and was in command of an infantry battalion. The action occurred Aug. 14 near Geer, France. He led his battalion in an attack upon the Nazis, secured a bridgehead across the Egrenne River and also took a hill listed on military maps as No. 329. Later on Aug. 20, Col. Etter led his battalion in another attack that continued at such a rapid pace for three days that he was unable to find time to sleep. According to the official citation, Col. Etter’s command was required to establish a bridgehead over a River at night and attack in the following day. Reviewing Col. Etter’s leadership on that occassion, the official citation stated that “his aggressiveness and determination were such an example and inspiration to the member of his force that it was always successful in securing bridgeheads for the advance of the combat command. During the entire period of this operation,” the citation continued, “Maj. Etter’s force was in direct contact with the enemy. Due to the rapid advance and the long distances traveled, he was never able to complete the consolidation of his position until late at night. Each night he returned alone to the combat command headquarters through territory not cleared of the enemy for a conference and to receive orders for the next day’s operations. By the time he returned to his organization through territory filled with enemy snipers and other small-arms fire, there was just sufficient time left to issue instructions to his command for the day’s operations. The loss of key staff officers made his duties as battalion commander more difficult during this period. Maj. Etter’s courage, calmness, good jdugment, initiative and tireless devotion to duty were directly responsible for the achievement of his force’s objective and contributed greatly to the success of the combat command int he accomplishedment of the important mission assigned to it. During the action approximately 530 of the enemy were killed or wounded and 650 captured.
Col. Etter saw his first action in the North Africa invasion thrust on Nov. 8, 1942. After the African campaign he was an instructor in Lt.-Gen. George Patton’s Fifth Army Invasion School. When the battle for Sicily started he was among the troops which stormed across the Mediterranean to take the Italian stronghold. The next invasion staged by American Military forces saw him in the middle of that fight – D-Day last june 6 on the coast of Normandy. He had followed Gen. Patton’s Third Army across France and into Germany.
Other than is wife, Col. Etter is survived by a 30-month-old daughter, Charlotte, whom he had not seen since she was a five-month-old baby; his parents; a brother, Lt.-Commdr. Henry Etter of the United States Navy, stationed at Washington, D.C.; a sister, Miss Helen Etter of Nashville. A brother-in-law, Capt. Wrren Walters, is now prisoner of war in Germany. He is the husband of a sister of Mrs. Etter.

  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Date of birth:
  • 6 December 1913
  • Date of death: 18 November 1944
  • County: Hamilton
  • Hometown: Chattanooga
  • Service Branch: Army/Army Air Forces
  • Division/Assignment: 41st Infantry Battalion, 2nd Armored Division
  • Theater: Europe
  • Conflict: World War II
  • Battles: Normandy Campaign, Siegfried line
  • Awards: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Croix de Guerre with Palms, and was nominated for the Medal of Honor
  • Burial/Memorial Location: Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands
  • Location In Memorial: Pillar XI, Top Panel
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