Shorty learned to fly in the barn-storming 1930s! He once flew an airplane to the family farm in Iowa, landing it in the pasture. Then he took all volunteers on an airplane ride. He was 5’4”, at 133 lbs, when he enlisted. He later moved to California and enlisted in the Army on 8 August, 1941, at Mather Field, California. He completed basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. He graduated from Airplane Mechanics school at Williams Field, Higley, Arizona (now Williams AFB, Phoenix, AZ) on March 13, 1942. He continued to pursue his love of flying and, as an aviation cadet, entered Glider School (enlisted service # 39159497). He graduated at Victorville, CA (Class 43-2) on Jan. 15, 1943. He was assigned to Bowman Field, Kentucky in July, 1943, then was selected for Project Nine, training at Bowman Field until late September. Their next stop was Seymour-Johnson Field, No. Carolina (now Seymour-Johnson AFB). It took a very special and brave pilot to fly a glider dependent on a C-47 and a tow line to get him and his special passengers and cargo to a reasonably safe landing area. In preflight briefing, they knew the odds of losing the tow rope and having to quickly search for a place to crash land. With no power, they could not stay in the air for long while loaded with a full weight of men and cargo. It was a daunting and challenging task.
Shorty flew a glider in Operation Thursday (prior page). He shipped out to India in November, 1943. He was assigned to the 5318th Provisional Unit (later renamed the 1st Air Commando Group) and was scheduled to take part in Operation Thursday. This operation was designed to fly heavily loaded gliders to two different spots 150 miles behind Japanese lines. The operation is discussed in the book, American Guerilla, by the late O.S.S. Agent Roger Hilsman. On 6 March, 1944, Shorty's glider was near the front of the launching force and was flying in a double (2 glider) tow position. His glider was overloaded with Chindits and equipment destined for the O.S.S. His tow rope snapped while enroute. His glider crashed into the jungle near the Chindwin River. He sustained some injuries in the crash and was captured by the Japanese. He sustained further injuries while being transported and he died a POW in the Rangoon Cantonment and was buried in its cemetery on 2 April, 1944. His remains were recovered at the Rangoon Prison Cantonment Cemetery. He was on the missing C-47B when it crashed near the Bay of Bengal.
On 20 April 1944, the Council Bluffs Nonpareil published a brief article: Missing in Action. ATLANTIC – 1stLt Charles B. Liston, 35, former Atlantic mechanic, has been missing in action in the Asiatic area since March 6, according to word received by his mother, Mrs. Charles Liston, of Adel. Lt. Liston entered service three years ago, receiving his training at Victorville, CA, and was commissioned a second lieutenant at Bowman Field, LA. His promotion to first lieutenant came after he had been sent overseas.
On 2 May 1944, the Des Moines Register published: 15 Iowa Yanks Among Missing - Washington, D.C. (AP) - The war department Monday listed Iowa soldiers as missing in action in the following areas: Asiatic: Lieut. Charles B. Liston, Adel.