Charles Henry was told he couldn't be a paratrooper because of the color of his skin.It was the 1940s, and Henry was black.It wasn't the first time Henry experienced racism, and it wouldn't be the last, but it wouldn't define him.Despite the challenges, he was determined to serve.Henry volunteered for the Army after he graduated from high school. He said his parents gave him a choice of either going to college, work, or the Army, but said regardless, he had to move out."It was a joke," he said. "They were kidding. I don't think they would've kicked me out."He went to a volunteer center in San Pedro, California, and filled out the paperwork. Everything went through fine until the day he was inducted."They got to my name and asked what branch of service I preferred," he said. "When you're a volunteer, you're supposed to get a choice."I mentioned the paratroopers. The sergeant looked at me with a funny look on his face like what's wrong with this guy and said, 'We don't train Negro paratroopers.'"Henry said racism wasn't new to him, but he didn't expect to encounter it in the Army."I'm going to give up my life for you," he said.At that moment, Henry said he had a choice. He could either hit the sergeant in the mouth or let the Army place him wherever they wanted."Fortunately, there's a God up there," he said.Had Henry been a paratrooper, it's unlikely he would've returned home alive. The survival rate for paratroopers in WWII wasn't very high. Instead, he was assigned to be in the military police.One evening while he was stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington, his company was told to line up outside. There had been a rape, and they wanted the victim to see if she could identify one of the men from Henry's group."This one company -- all black -- they called us out," Henry said. "They had us line up. They had a car parked with tinted windows with the victim -- allegedly -- in the car."They were trying to get her to identify someone, but she didn't identify anyone. There was no rape."Henry noted how the incident seemed to mirror what had happened to the Scottsboro Boys in 1931 when nine black men between the ages of 13 to 20 were falsely accused of raping two white women."It makes you feel bad. It gives you a bad feeling about the Army, too," he said. "The way they treated you, and they assumed that you were guilty."One day he was guarding a prisoner of war from World War II. That's what he did for most of his time during the war.The prisoner was well aware of what Henry had to live through being a black man in the U.S. at the time, and he asked him why he fought."That's when I told him about my country, my home, my family, my God," Henry said. "I've got to fight. You give me no choice."Henry never stopped loving his country, and he's immensely proud to have served.He spent the war stateside, guarding the prisoners who were sent back, but he always admired the Soldiers who went overseas to the front lines. Later in life, he got to travel to Belgium to see where some of the war took place."It fulfilled a dream of mine," he said.And, while that provided some closure and offered Henry some fulfillment, there was still an empty spot on his uniform jacket. He still never got his jump wings.Last November, Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Counts was scheduled to give a presentation at Monrovia Middle School for a Veterans Day celebration event.That's where he met Henry and heard about him being denied the opportunity to be a paratrooper."I kneel down, and I was talking to him, and he told me his story," Counts said. "And it broke my heart."The fact Henry volunteered for one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army resonated with Counts, and he wanted to do something."Then it hit me," Counts said. "I said, 'I'm a jumpmaster.' And, I'm thinking in my head, I'm visualizing in the inside of my truck, and at one time, for one uniform, I had pin-on stuff."And I remembered I kept an extra set of pin-on airborne wings, pin-on air assault wings, and a pin-on drill sergeant badge, and I was pretty sure they were still there."He told Henry that he apologized on behalf of the entire Airborne Corps."We made a mistake, and I'm going to rectify that."So, Counts went out to his truck and found the pin he was looking for, and since Counts was a jumpmaster, that meant he could make Henry an honorary paratrooper.He told Henry's story to the crowd at Monrovia Middle School."The kids were gasping, and they were like no, no," Counts said. "But I said we're going to fix that right now."And they went wild. Most of them didn't really know what was happening other than something wrong was being made right."Afterword Henry told Counts, "I now have a reason to live."Today, Henry wears a Parachutist Badge on his jacket and his WWII Veterans hat.