Friday, May 26, 2017

Charles Cogswell: 
He Volunteered for More
Staff Sgt. Charles Cogswell had flown 43 combat missions as a waist gunner on the B-17 “Flying Fortress” and was eligible to come home and conclude his hazardous duty. Instead, he volunteered for more bombing runs.
Soon after, on March 11, 1944, his plane was hit by German fire over 
the Adriatic Sea near Padua, Italy. He was never found and was listed at the war’s end as “missing in action.”
Wayne DeForest, a nephew of Cogswell, reports that, “The letters from the War Department that my grandparents kept all these years, and that I now keep, reported that the aircraft he was on took enemy fire and exploded. The Germans reported they patrolled the waters where it went down and the only survivor was the co-pilot who was sent to a POW camp.”
Charles Gardiner Cogswell was born in Ridgefield in 1923, a son of Katherine and Richard Cogswell. His father was a local plumbing contractor and the family lived on Ramapoo Road.
Cogswell graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1941. A year later, at the age of 19, he joined the Army. By 1943 he had been promoted to sergeant.
Sometime after he was declared missing in action, “his family ... received a beautiful
memorial booklet, inscribed with his name, paying tribute to him for his flying duties, which in some cases were carried out from British bases,” recalled Charles Coles, a classmate of Cogswell at RHS.
For his service, Sgt. Cogswell earned the Purple Heart, the Air Medal Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, the American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal, all awarded posthumously. 
 He is listed on the “Tablets of the Missing” at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, Nettuno, Italy.
The 1946 Ridgefield High School yearbook was dedicated to Cogswell and nine other former RHS students who had lost their lives in the war.
In 1942, shortly before enlisting, four teenagers happened to be on Main Street in front of the town hall when a Life magazine photographer was doing a photo shoot of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Westbrook Pegler participating in a scrap drive by donating his car’s bumpers. In the background of the full-page picture that appeared in Life, one can clearly see the faces of the four Ridgefield boys, watching the goings on. One of them was Charlie Cogswell.

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