United States Army Sgt. Charlie Page spent his first day of basic training on the same day President Franklin D. Roosevelt was reelected for the third time. On Friday, the 89-year-old World War II veteran was recognized by the New Jersey Devils as the team’s Hero of the Game.
Page, a longtime resident of Oakland graduated from high school in June 1944. Three months later, he received notice he had been drafted, and on November 7th he reported for duty. “I trained at Fort Dix, [New Jersey] and at Fort Knox, Kentucky,” Page said. After a series of assignments, including one in Hawaii, Page’s division was sent to Japan, becoming the first division to land in the southern area of Japan’s main island, Honshu. Page would serve for two years in the pacific theater before earning an honorable discharge.
“Osaka was our headquarters, and I served in the judge-advocate department.” As one of the only soldiers in his group who could type, Page processed numerous court martials.
Page was awarded the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for his service in the department. “I had to serve for 24 hours a day, for two days, typing court martials.” As a participant in the United States Army, he received the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal.
The veteran also received the Sharpshooters Medal for his skill with a rifle. “That represents achieving a score of 180 out of 200 shots on a rifle range,” Page said. “I was not an expert, a man who could do 190 out of 200, but I was good at it.”
As successful as he was serving overseas, heading back to the United States was a welcomed idea. “I was very happy to come home,” Page said. After taking training courses through the G.I. Bill, Page became an accountant, working for Grand Union for 42 years.
Outside of work, Page said he got married “and lived happily ever after.” Page brought his daughter and grandson with him to the Devils game.
Page was a hockey fan before the Devils came to New Jersey, and adopted the Devils when they moved to the Garden State. He counts legendary goaltender Martin Brodeur and defenseman Scott Stevens as his favorite players. His grandson, Sean Till, brought Page to his first game, where Page said he became hooked on the Devils.
Page was humble about the recognition, saying the honor should be put upon those less fortunate than him. “Those who are buried overseas are the ones who deserve the honor,” he said. “I’m one of the lucky ones.”