Charles H. Noble, Sr.
Charles Henry Noble was born in Boise Barracks, Idaho, on October 30, 1898, the son of Brigadier General Charles H. Noble and Mary Palmer Noble. Charles attended grammar school through high school in Indianapolis, Indiana, and then Columbia Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., prior to entering the Military Academy at West Point, by presidential appointment at large. He graduated early from West Point on November 1, 1918, returning to the Academy as a second lieutenant student officer, from Dec. 3, 1918 to June 11, 1919. In August 1, 1935, Charles was promoted to captain.
Charles attended the U.S. Army Cavalry School and was one of the few chosen for the Advanced Equitation Class, an extremely sought-after assignment. He went on to be an accomplished polo player and an expert competitive jump rider, particularly over long and difficult timed courses.
Charles’ career reached its climax when he became the commanding officer of Combat Command B, of the 16th Armored Division, which became a part of General George Patton’s Third Army, spearheading the thrust into Czechoslovakia in May 1945. Combat Command B, led by the Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron and a detachment of Combat Engineers, followed by tanks and infantry with artillery in the rear, took the lead in the advance on Pilsen and the huge Skoda Munitions Works.
In Charles’ own words: “My orders were to ‘seize and hold’ the high ground west of the city of Pilsen, which meant to halt west of Pilsen, but the knowledge that the other Combat Commands would soon follow gave me added confidence. I, therefore, decided to continue the advance and attempt to take the city, which would serve as a fortress against enemy armor and infantry.” There was surprisingly little resistance, save for intense sniper fire, which was finally silenced before the City of Pilsen was recaptured from the Germans. Combat Command B was enthusiastically received by the jubilant Czechs.
For leading the liberation force, Col. Noble was awarded the Czechoslovakian Military Cross 1939 and the Czech Order of the White Lion (the equivalent of the U.S. Medal of Honor), and was one of three people (including Czech President Beneš and Major General Ernest N. Harmon) to become the first honorary citizens of Pilsen. Though Col. Noble was considered to be the “Liberator of Bohemia” by the Czech people, he stated, “that honor should really have gone to the troops of the 16th Armored Division.” Col. Noble also received the Bronze Star with “V” for valor and the Legion of Merit, as G4 (supply) of the XXI Corps. Col. Noble retired on June 30, 1949, by his own application.
After retirement, Charles was involved in many activities, including being the founder and first president of both the West Point Society of South Texas and the 16th Armored Division Association. He was part of the founding group for the United Services Auto Association and served for some time as the Executive Secretary of the Printing Industry Association of San Antonio. In his latter years, he established his own investment and property management business.