Charles Dolfie Shufelt
March 29, 1922 – February 17, 1945
Charles “Chuck” Shufelt and his family moved to Albany from Rensselaer when Chuck was a boy. The family attended St. Andrew’s where Chuck was confirmed in 1935. His younger brother, Stanley, says Chuck was a “good guy” who loved the outdoors, especially fishing. After graduating from Albany High School, Chuck attended Syracuse University, where he majored in Engineering and Forestry. Stanley says Chuck’s dream was to work in the Adirondacks, developing new habitats for fish and wildlife.
In the summer of 1943, just a few weeks after graduating from Syracuse, Chuck Shufelt was drafted into the Army. Inductees into the Army were required to take the General Classification Test, which helped determine where they would be assigned. Chuck’s score on the test was high enough to qualify him for a place in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP). The Army had developed the ASTP to educate the top recruits into the service in vital areas such as engineering and languages: Army officials feared that a long war would deplete the normal supply of college graduates in those areas. Soldiers choosing to join the ASTP would attend college in an accelerated and rigorous program at Army expense, remaining lowly-paid privates.
Chuck Shufelt chose to join the ASTP and was sent to Louisiana State University to study. Within months however, rumors of the ASTP program’s imminent demise proved true. The Army needed more men and pulled most of the ASTPers out of their courses and sent them to infantry training. Chuck’s engineering degree kept him from the infantry. He was instead sent to Ft. Belvoir, home of the Army Engineer Replacement Training Center. There Chuck underwent specialized training with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps was charged with keeping the armed forces “on the go,” building bridges and roads, clearing mines and opening up ports and beachheads. When necessary they joined the infantry and fought on the front lines.
Chuck Shufelt earned an officer’s commission and in December 1944, shipped out to the European Theatre as a Second Lieutenant. Chuck was assigned to the 150th Combat Engineers Battalion. The 150th was stationed in Luxembourg, building bridges for the troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. As the Allied troops repelled the German attack, the 150th moved with them, clearing mines and repairing or replacing bridges destroyed by the retreating Germans. When Chuck arrived to join the 150th he was attached to the Headquarters Company so that he would have time to observe and get acclimated. After only two weeks, however, the need for platoon leaders cut short Chuck’s orientation and he was sent to the front lines.
The advancing American troops had reached the Sauer and Our Rivers, along the border between Luxembourg and Germany, at the end of February, 1945. The 150th was assigned to help the 80th Infantry Division cross the Our River and move into Germany. The river was at flood stage, and getting the 80th division across was a terrible challenge. The opposite bank was a steep incline, topped with German fortified positions. The combination of floodwaters and German artillery fire defeated all efforts to put either a foot or vehicle bridge across. The engineers were then forced to ferry the troops across, losing men and equipment in the rough passage. During the effort to move the division across the Our River, Chuck Shufelt was mortally wounded.
Chuck Shufelt’s brother Stanley remembers that after the war, a man from Chuck’s unit came on crutches to the Shufelt house to tell Chuck’s parents about the circumstances of their son’s death. The man told the family that Chuck’s unit was advancing up a hill when a mortar shell landed nearby. Chuck was hit in the head by shell fragments and gravely wounded. He was evacuated from the front lines and sent to an Army hospital in France. There, ten days later, he died of his wounds. He was 22 years old.
Chuck’s body was brought home from Luxembourg; he is buried at the Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. For his actions during the war Chuck was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star. For their efforts in bridging the Our River the 150th battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation.