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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army

Walter C Wetzel

  • Rank: Private First Class
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Antitank Company, 13th Infantry,
    8th Infantry Division
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: April 3, 1945
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Birken, Germany
Pfc. Wetzel, an acting squad leader with the Antitank Company of the 13th Infantry, was guarding his platoon's command post in a house at Birken, Germany, during the early morning hours of 3 April 1945, when he detected strong enemy forces moving in to attack. He ran into the house, alerted the occupants, and immediately began defending the post against heavy automatic-weapon fire coming from the hostile troops. Under cover of darkness the Germans forced their way close to the building where they hurled grenades, two of which landed in the room where Pfc. Wetzel and the others had taken up firing positions. Shouting a warning to his fellow soldiers, Pfc. Wetzel threw himself on the grenades and, as they exploded, absorbed their entire blast, suffering wounds from which he died. The supreme gallantry of Pfc. Wetzel saved his comrades from death or serious injury and made it possible for them to continue the defense of the command post and break the power of a dangerous local counterthrust by the enemy. His unhesitating sacrifice of his life was in keeping with the U.S. Army's highest traditions of bravery and heroism.
Medal of Honor Recipient Walter C. Wetzel
Medal of Honor Recipient Walter C. Wetzel
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Roseville, Macomb County, Michigan
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Born: 1919, Huntington, Cabell County, WV, United States
  • Died: April 3, 1945, Germany
  • Buried: A.B.M.C. Netherlands Cemetery (MH) (N-18-10), Margraten, Holland
  • Location of Medal: Michigan Heroes Museum, Frankenmuth, MI

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