Charles Ray Willeford Master Sergeant, United States Air Force & Charles Ray Willeford Sergeant, United States Army

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Information Provided By His Loving Wife, Betsy Willeford

Charles Ray Willeford served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force for twenty years, retiring from the USAF as a master sergeant in 1956.

During World War II he was a tank commander with the 10th Armored Division and was awarded the Silver Star, for gallantry in action, the Bronze Star, for valor, the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster; and the Luxembourg Criox de Guerre, for heroic action during the Battle of the Bulge.

Following the war he was a rifle company first sergeant, and served for three years with the Army of Occupation in Japan. He reenlisted in the Air Force as a base historian.

After leaving the service he became a professor of English at the University of Miami and Miami-Dade Community College, retiring after teaching 16  years to write full time. He is the author of 16 novels, including The Burnt Orange Heresy, Cockfighter, Miami Blues, and Pick-up which was selected for the Library of America's Crime Noir compilation. Additionally, he wrote four autobiographies including Something About a Soldier., a memoir of pre-war army service in the Philippines, two volumes of poetry and two of criticism.


From various press sources:

2 January 1919 – 1988.

Charles Ray Willeford ran away from home as a young teenager and rode the rails in the Depression. He joined the Army at age sixteen, lying about his age by two years, and eventually served as a tank commander in the 10th Armoured Division in World War II. He won the Silver Star, the Bronze Star for valor, the Purple Heart with one oak leaf cluster, and (during the Battle of the Bulge) the Luxembourg Croix de Guerre. He also served as a rifle commander with the occupying army in Japan. He retired from the Air Corps as a master sergeant after twenty years of service, and became a professor of English at the University of Miami and Miami-Dade Community College. He was also a professional horse trainer, boxer, radio announcer, and painter.

Charles Willeford: ‘…better than Hall and Hiaasen and as good as Elmore Leonard at his best.' – Time Out on his own as a  hobo at age 16, then a decorated WW2 marine, then a teacher of literature, Willeford had two careers as a writer – in the 50's & 60's, hardboiled pulp in the style of Jim Thompson (Charles Willeford Omnibus) and then in the eighties the 4 superb Hoke Moseley novels. The first of these – Miami Blues – was made into a film starring William Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Fred Ward.

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