World War II Driver Charles P. Edwards was active in service projects even before volunteering with the American Field Service (AFS.) After graduating from college, he worked on a project with the American Friends Service Committee draining malarial swamps in the tropical lowlands east of Mexico City. Soon after, he volunteered for the AFS after registering as a “Conscientious Objector” to the war in 1942. During the course of service with AFS, he was temporarily transferred to the Allied Military Government Command in Lanciano, Italy from April to June 1944 to serve as a Public Health and Wealth Officer, in part thanks to his prior experience in Mexico City. Edwards helped with sanitation and malaria control in Lanciano, in addition to supplying the civilian hospital and dispensaries.
During his first few weeks on the job, Edwards was handed a cup of tea at the Refugee Center by a young woman named Licia Sargiacomo. Three months later they were in love and, amidst the horrors of war that surrounded them, were engaged to be married. The wedding ceremony was held at a temporary altar in the dining room of her brother’s home, and guests included fellow AFS Drivers and the mayor of Lanciano. The reception was held on a terrace overlooking a piazza where a devastating German bombing raid had taken place only months before. Licia and Charles would go on to have three children after the war.