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Charles  Chipley  Wetzel

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial

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Charles Chipley Wetzel
1922-1944

“His short life was that of a student and a fine athlete – cultured and ambitious. . . .”

Brett C. Bosley, “Remembering a Jefferson County Soldier”

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 Town High School Science Club
Charles Town High School Science Club, 1941. Charles Wetzel is in back row, 2nd from right.
The Rambler, 1941
Charles Town High School Track Team
Charles Town High School Track Team, 1941. Wetzel is in front row,
5th from left.
The Rambler, 1941

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

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