William Carl Whitlatch, Jr.
William Carl Whitlatch, Jr., known to friends as Bill, was born during a time of war for the United States. The United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Two years later, on December 20, 1943, William C. Sr. and Betty Streight Whitlatch gave birth to William Carl Whitlatch, Jr. in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents moved to Moundsville, West Virginia, where he graduated from Moundsville High School in 1961.
|After graduating, he found employment at the Mull Machine Company in Wheeling, West Virginia. Bill completed apprenticeship training as a machinist under the sponsorship of Mull Machine Company on May 3, 1966. During that same year, he married Linda Fay O'Neil in Moundsville. Two years later, in July 1968, Bill entered the United States Army, which sent him to Vietnam to aid the United States' effort in the Vietnam conflict. During his time in the Armed Forces, the Army promoted Bill to the rank of Sergeant. He also earned numerous prestigious medals, including National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Sharpshooter Badge with rifle bar and Marksman Badge with automatic rifle and machine gun. None of these honors compared to the honor of becoming a father. In 1968, Linda learned that she was pregnant with their child.||
William Carl Whitlatch, Jr.
Sgt. Whitlatch became a tremendous soldier and leader during his service in Vietnam. He served with the Company B, 1st Battalion, 50th Infantry, where he served as a platoon leader. On December 7, 1969, while his squad set up a night ambush position, the enemy moved in the direction of Company B's defensive position. Bill acted at once by leading his men in a night ambush. He moved to different positions, directing the gunfire of his squad. Two days later, he once again led his men through the fire of small arms and automatic weapons in order to meet up with a ranger team that 50 North Vietnamese had surrounded. Their efforts there killed 27 enemy soldiers with no casualties suffered by the United States. On December 12, the squad was not as lucky as it had been on the previous encounters. Sgt. Whitlatch was serving as point man on a company's search and clear mission. He spotted another ambush and gave a shout to inform the others of his discovering. He charged the ambush site, killing two enemy soldiers before receiving a wound himself. Even though he was wounded, Bill did not let that stop him from doing his duty. He continued to direct his men's fire and lead them in pursuit of the North Vietnamese until his wound overcame him. He died on that battlefield near Ap Long Lam, Republic of Vietnam on December 12, 1969. Linda gave birth to their son William C Whitlatch, III on December 5, 1969, a week before his father's death.
Presentation of the Silver Star to
Mrs. William Carl Whitlatch, Jr. (Linda)
|Col. Vincent F. Fazio presented Linda F. Whitlatch with her husband's Silver Star at a special ceremony at the Army Reserve Center in Clator. The government also posthumously awarded Sgt. Whitlatch the Purple Heart for his gallant effort in the service of his country. His family held a memorial service for Bill at the Grissell's Funeral on December 20, 1969; William Carl Whitlatch, Jr. would have turned 26 that day. His body is buried at the Riverview Cemetery.|
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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