The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
*WETZEL, WALTER C.
Rank and Organization: Private First Class, U.S.
Army, 13th Infantry, 8th Infantry Division. Place and Date Birken, Germany, 3 April
1945. Entered Service at: Roseville, Mich. Birth: Huntington, W. Va. G.O.
No.: 21, 26 February 1946.
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.