Veteran of the Month: Charles Cleon Wright


By Milan Eagle media

Charles Cleon Wright was born April 12, 1927 in Beefhide, KY. He was the 10th of 12 children to Joe and Winnie Wright.
His father was a farmer and his mother was a business woman.
Cleon attended grade school in a two-room schoolhouse. One room was first through fourth grades while the other room was fifth through eighth. Pike County started busing eighth graders to Dorton where he attended before entering the ninth grade at Jenkins High School. His mother took a job running a boarding house for miners in Jenkins and he stayed helping her. The following year he was back in Beefhide attending Dorton High School. He was 17 years old and almost ready to finish his junior year when he received his draft notice.
June 1944 Cleon was in Camp Asbury, Indiana assigned to the clerk’s office before being transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington for basic training.
Germany surrendered and Cleon was transferred to California. Next, he was assigned to the hospital ship USS Comfort. The USS Comfort was built, commanded and crewed by the Navy for the Army and intended for evacuation and transport of patients. Medical equipment and personnel were provided by the Army. Prior to his deployment the USS Comfort was struck by a Japanese kamikaze airplane killing 28 nurses and wounding 48 patients. Once USS Comfort was put back in service Cleon’s job was preparing stats of deaths and patients’ conditions and sometimes helping in the morgue. He completed high school by correspondence and his brother picked up his diploma from the class of 1945.
Discharged from the Army in August 1945, Cleon attended college in Barbourville, KY under the GI Bill. He graduated with an AB degree in business and biology. After graduation he left KY to work at the Ford Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne, MI. While in MI he was called to return and teach in KY which he did for several years and continued his education by attaining his master’s degree from the University of Kentucky.
He was offered teaching positions in KY but declined; when he was offered a teaching position at Eastern Michigan University they came to MI. Since EMU was remodeling the business building, they only guaranteed employment for 1 year so he turned that job down and accepted a job at Belleville High School.
At that time, Wayne County Community College had a campus in Belleville. Cleon was hired to run its Adult Education Department, in addition to teaching at Belleville HS. During this time Cleon attained another master’s degree from EMU. Cleon retired from Belleville High School in 1989 but he didn’t quit. He continued as a substitute teacher at Willow Run, Ypsilanti, Belleville and public schools until 2017. This educator, leader and American patriot will celebrate his 93rd birthday in April. with his wife Janice (Addington) of over 60 years, their daughter, Francine Fryske (Saline, MI) 3 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

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