Charles Chipley Wetzel
|Charles Chipley Wetzel was born September 29, 1922, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, the second child of Mark and Katherine Wysong Wetzel. When quite young, the Wetzel family moved to Charles Town, where he enrolled in school in 1929. His activities at Charles Town High School included the Choral Club, in which he had a part in the 1940 senior class play “The Club Night Club,” the Science Club, the Purple and Gold Glee Club, football, basketball, and track. Charles graduated in 1941 after which he enrolled at Shepherd College as a pre-med student. He planned to transfer to West Virginia University, but that changed after the Japanese bombed of Pearl Harbor; before his second semester of college began, he enlisted in the United States Army instead.|
Charles received his training at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Dix, New Jersey. Commissioned as second lieutenant, he was assigned to the 357th Regiment, 90th Infantry Division.
In June 1944, Charles landed in Normandy, where his division, with the 349th Regiment, prepared for the drive toward Cherbourg. On June 11, near the small Norman town of Amfreville, they met heavy resistance. 2nd Lt. Charles C. Wetzel ’s platoon was pinned down by heavy enemy fire and, having observed the left flank of the platoon was most vulnerable, he moved to that area while the enemy continued heavy machine gun fire. The enemy also threw grenades, several of which he picked up and threw back before they could explode. Although wounded, Lt. Wetzel dragged himself to a position in the center of the platoon from which he could better direct the fighting. Again wounded, he refused evacuation and continued to move forward, engaging the enemy in hand-to-hand combat until he was killed in action on June 16. Charles C. Wetzel was buried in the Normandy American Cemetery at St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France.
In July 1945, during a ceremony conducted at Newton D. Baker General Hospital, his father was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross that his son had been awarded posthumously for his heroism during the Cherbourg Operations.
Source: Brett C. Bosley, “Remembering a Jefferson County Soldier ,“ Spirit of Jefferson/Farmers Advocate
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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