Charles Eldridge Tart was born on August 3, 1931, in Sampson County, N.C., to Stephen E. and Bertha Tart. The Tart family farmed on their own farm while Charles was growing up. He went to school at a rural school near his home, and left school in the ninth grade. When he was 17 years old, Tart and his friend traveled to Dunn, N.C., and enlisted in the U.S. Army on January 13, 1949.
He was inducted into military service at Fort Bragg, N.C. Tart attended his basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in Company H, 5th Regiment. While at Fort Jackson, Tart started boxing for the Army, and became a really good boxer. He was sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, for advanced training in Army tank operations, assigned to the 72nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division. He was trained on the following tanks at Fort Lewis: M4A3E8 Sherman tank, M39 Armored Utility Vehicle, and the M26 Pershing tank. Tart remained at Fort Lewis for just over a year, and was involved in the mock battles and tank operations in Hawaii.
When his unit was being put on alert to head to Korea for battle, Tart was assigned as a temporary Military Police officer, tasked with walking through Tacoma, Washington, businesses and institutions to round up U.S. military individuals who were in the city, and have them report back to their military bases. Tart's unit was sent to Korea at the end of August 1950, and arrived in-country at Puson, Korea. Tart's unit was involved in fighting along much of the Pusan Perimeter, including the city of Taegu and the Naktong River area in 1950. Tart's unit made it to Pyongyang in the north of Korea, before his unit was ordered to retreat back to the 38th Parallel. Tart reached the rank of Staff Sergeant while in Korea, and served on the front lines for over 10 months.
He was sent to Japan to be stationed for 18 months after signing up for this additional service, which Tart did just to get off the front lines in Korea. Tart was the First Field Sergeant of a company while stationed in Japan. After leaving Japan, he arrived in the U.S., and took a train across the country to get back to Fort Jackson, S.C. Tart was assigned to Fort Polk in Louisiana, tasked with training Ohio National Guard men on tank operations in preparation for the Korean War. He caught malaria while in Louisiana while training troops. Tart was honorably discharged from the Army on June 25, 1952. He did not have to serve in the Army Reserves after his Korean War service. Tart served for a total of three and a half years.
After the war, Tart returned to his family's home in Sampson County, N.C. He moved to Fayetteville, N.C., and attended a nine-month junior accounting course. Tart graduated from a business college in Fayetteville. He worked as the credit manager for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission for a number of years. Tart owned and operated a dirt race track in Newton Grove, N.C., in the 1950s, called "Easy Street Drag Strip." He ran the race track on the weekends. At the time of this interview, Charles Tart was living in Linden, N.C.
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