Charles Mills was born 22 JUL 1921 in Saint Louis, MO.  His father was Joseph Fay Mills (1889–1960) and his mother was Helen Peterbilt Nicholl (1894–1994).  Charles had six sisters: Harriet (1911-1972), Norma (1913-1980), Ruth (1916-1927), Helen (1917-2010), Virginia (1923-2000), and Marian (1927-2004).  He had two brothers: Russell (1920-1920) and Milton (1927-1952).  According to the 1930 Federal Census, the family lived at 3406 Blair Avenue in St. Louis MO, and were listed as still residing there in the 1940 census. At that time 18-year-old Charles’s occupation was listed as, “Punch Press Helper.”  Charles had completed eighth grade in Elementary school.  On 15-NOV 1941 Charles married Jane Maxine Meeks.

Charles enlisted in the Merchant Marines 16-MAY 1943.  At that time, Merchant Marine recruits were typically issued dungarees, chambray shirts, underwear, white and blue sailor hats, one set of dress blues, sailor ties, dress black shoes, very heavy work shoes, black socks, and a seaman’s black turtleneck sweater. Little did he know, like other Merchant Marine sailors, they would take all the risks of wartime, with few G.I benefits.

For the rest of Charles’ story, click on the pdf below.


Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.