b. 07/06/1919 Huntington, West Virginia. d. 03/04/1945 Birken-Honigsessen, Germany.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 03/04/1945 Birken-Honigsessen, Germany.
World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. He received the award posthumously from US President Harry S. Truman on February 26, 1946 for his actions as a private first class in the 13th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, US Army, on April 3, 1945, near Birken, Germany during the final days of World War II. Born June 7, 1919, he joined the US Army from Roseville, Michigan during World War II and was sent to the European Theater of Operations. During the Allied advance into Germany at the beginning of April 1945, he purposely smothered enemy grenade blasts in order to protect his fellow soldiers and he died as a result at the age of 25. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he also was awarded the Purple Heart, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.
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 weapons fire coming from the hostile troops. Under cover of darkness the Germans forced their way close to the building where they hurled grenades, 2 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.
BURIAL LOCATION: NETHERLANDS AMERICAN CEMETERY, LIMBURG, NETHERLANDS.
Plot N, Row 18, Grave 10
NO IMAGE AVAILABLE