He was posthumousl awarded the
Congressional Medal of Honor
Military Chaplains(Roman Catholic) Army
Service to God and Country
Only two Army Chaplains have received the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The recipients were Chaplains Charles Joseph Watters and Angelo J. Liteky.
Photo Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com
(Major) Charles Watters
17 January 1927 + 19 November 1967
Chaplain Watters was a 40-year-old native of Jersey City, New Jersey. After his ordination in 1953,
he served parishes in his home town
as well as in Rutherford, Paramus, and Cranford, New Jersey. In 1962 he became a chaplain in the Air National Guard and two years later
entered active duty as an Army chaplain. In July 1967 he had already completed his 12-month tour in Vietnam but had voluntarily extended
his service there by 6 months. On 19 November 1967 his unit was involved in close combat with the enemy. For his "conspicuous
gallantry ... unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades" on that day, Chaplain Watters was posthumously awarded the
Medal of Honor by Vice President Spiro Agnew on 4 November 1969.
Chaplain Charles J. Watters served with the 173d Airborne Brigade. After ministering day and night
to the men of the 2d battalion, 503d Infantry, in a battle that was to rage for 12 days, he was killed while helping care for the wounded
Chaplain Watters received the [Congressional Medal of Honor] posthumously.
Recalling Chaplain Watters’ sacrifice, a former Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Major General)
Gerhardt W. Hyatt (deceased) said ...The Army did not tell him to be on the battlefield that day. He could have been back in a safe area
with his men. Then when the battle raged and the wounded were lying on the field, repeatedly he risked his life to bring them in and give
l knew that he was one of the men on the battlefield that day whose life Charlie Watters had saved. It was one man's investment of his
profession...I was at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and a young soldier asked that he might be my driver for that day because he wanted to
tell and of himself, and that investment is still paying spiritual dividends through the lives of the grateful men whose lives he saved.
He Was Always There: U.S. Army Chaplain Ministry in the Vietnam Conflict, Henry F. Ackerman,
Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, Washington, D.C. 1989, p.171.
Charles Joseph Watters
Rank and organization: Chaplain (Maj.), U .S. Army, Company A, 173d Support
Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and Date: Near Dak To Province, Republic of Vietnam, 19 November 1967. Entered service at:
Fort Dix, N.J. Born: 17 January 1927.
Medal of Honor Citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the
call of duty. Chaplain Watters distinguished himself during an assault in the vicinity of Dak To. Chaplain Watters was moving with one of
the companies when it engaged a heavily armed enemy battalion. As the battle raged and the casualties mounted, Chaplain Watters, with
complete disregard for his safety, rushed forward to the line of contact. Unarmed and completely exposed, he moved among, as well as in
front of the advancing troops, giving aid to the wounded, assisting in their evacuation, giving words of encouragement, and administering
the last rites to the dying. When a wounded paratrooper was standing in shock in front of the assaulting forces, Chaplain Watters ran
forward, picked the man up on his shoulders and carried him to safety. As the troopers battled to the first enemy entrenchment, Chaplain
Watters ran through the intense enemy fire to the front of the entrenchment to aid a fallen comrade. A short time later, the paratroopers
pulled back in preparation for a second assault. Chaplain Watters exposed himself to both friendly and enemy fire between the two forces
in order to recover two wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed that
several wounded soldiers were lying outside the newly formed perimeter. Without hesitation and ignoring attempts to restrain him, Chaplain
Watters left the perimeter three times in the face of small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire to carry and to assist the injured
troopers to safety. Satisfied that all of the wounded were inside the perimeter, he began aiding the medics ... applying field bandages to
open wounds, obtaining and serving food and water, giving spiritual and mental strength and comfort. During his ministering, he moved out to
the perimeter from position to position redistributing food and water, and tending to the needs of his men. Chaplain Watters was giving aid
to the wounded when he himself was mortally wounded. Chaplain Watters' unyielding perseverance and selfless devotion to his comrades was in
keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.
He was posthumously awarded the
Photo Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com
Congressional Medal of Honor
ANGELO J. LITEKY
Military service Born on February 14, 1931, in Washington, D.C., Liteky joined the Army from
Fort Hamilton, New York. He served in Vietnam as a captain and chaplain in Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 199th Infantry Brigade.
n December 6, 1967, near Phuoc-Lac in South Vietnam's Biên Ḥa Province, he was accompanying Company A, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment,
on a search and destroy mission when they came under heavy fire from a numerically superior enemy force. Seeing two wounded men lying 15 metres
(49 ft) from an enemy machine gun, Liteky shielded them with his body and, once the volume of fire had sufficiently decreased, dragged them to
the relative safety of a helicopter landing zone. Although wounded in the neck and foot, he continued to expose himself to hostile fire in order to
rescue more of the wounded and administer last rites to the dying. When the landing zone came under fire, he stood in the open and directed the
medical evacuation helicopters in and out of the area. After the wounded had been evacuated, he returned to the perimeter to encourage the remaining
soldiers until Company A was relieved the next morning. Liteky carried a total of 20 soldiers to safety during the battle. For these actions, he was
awarded the Medal of Honor
February 14, 1931 age 81
formerly known as Angelo Liteky, is an American peace activist who served as a United States Army chaplain in the Vietnam War and was awarded the
U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. A Roman Catholic priest, Liteky received the award for braving intense fire to carry 20
wounded soldiers to safety during a 1967 battle.
Liteky's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
in a search and destroy operation when Company A came under intense fire from a battalion size enemy force.
Momentarily stunned from the immediate encounter that ensued, the men hugged the ground for cover. Observing 2 wounded men, Chaplain Liteky moved
to within 15 meters of an enemy machine gun position to reach them, placing himself between the enemy and the wounded men. When there was a brief
respite in the fighting, he managed to drag them to the relative safety of the landing zone. Inspired by his courageous actions, the company
rallied and began placing a heavy volume of fire upon the enemy's positions. In a magnificent display of courage and leadership, Chaplain Liteky
began moving upright through the enemy fire, administering last rites to the dying and evacuating the wounded. Noticing another trapped and
seriously wounded man, Chaplain Liteky crawled to his aid. Realizing that the wounded man was too heavy to carry, he rolled on his back, placed the
man on his chest and through sheer determination and fortitude crawled back to the landing zone using his elbows and heels to push himself along.
Pausing for breath momentarily, he returned to the action and came upon a man entangled in the dense, thorny underbrush. Once more intense enemy
fire was directed at him, but Chaplain Liteky stood his ground and calmly broke the vines and carried the man to the landing zone for evacuation
Liteky's actions reflect great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.
Liteky (second from right) receiving the Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson on November 19, 1968
along with four fellow recipients: Gary Wetzel, Dwight H. Johnson, Sammy L. Davis, and James Allen Taylor.
Returns the Medal of Honor
Charles James "Charlie" Liteky,(formerly known as Angelo J. Liteky) On July 29, 1986, he renounced his
Medal of Honor.
Liteky left the priesthood in 1975. In 1983, he married a former nun named Judy Balch, who encouraged his involvement in social justice activities,
particularly protesting the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Georgia. On
July 29, 1986, he renounced his Medal of Honor by placing it in an envelope addressed to then-President Ronald Reagan near the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The decoration is now on display at the National Museum of American History. In doing this, he
became the only recipient to have renounced the medal. He wanted to renounce his Medal of Honor before embarking in September 1986 on the Veterans
Fast for Life in protest against the U.S. policies in Central America. In recent years, he has also opposed the United States' invasion of
The Four Chaplains' Medal
Photo Courtesy of HomeOfHeroes.com
Father John P. Washington was the only
Roman Catholic Chaplain to receive the medal.
Chaplain John P. Washington
First Lieutenant, Chaplain's Crops, USAR
July 18, 1908 + February 3, 1943
John P. Washington was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 18, 1908. His parents were Frank and Mary;
in addition they had daughters Mary and Anna, and sons Thomas, Francis, Leo and Edmund. In 1914, John was enrolled at St. Rose of Lima
Catholic Elementary School. In those days, times were rough for a poor immigrant family, but John had his father's Irish grin and his mother's
Irish stick-to-itiveness. He liked to play ball, but he had a newspaper route to help his mother with extra money, since there were nine mouths
in the Washington household to feed. John choir. When he entered seventh grade, he felt strongly about becoming a priest...during the previous
year, he became an altar boy and his priestly destiny was in process.
John entered Seton Hall in South Orange, New Jersey to complete his high school and college courses in preparation for the priesthood. He
graduated in 1931 with an A.B. degree. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey and received his minor orders on
May 26, 1933. John excelled in the seminary, was a sub deacon at all the solemn masses, and later became a deacon on December 25, 1934. John
was elected prefect of his class and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1935.
Father Washington's first parish was at St. Genevieve's in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then he served at St. Venantius for a year. In 1938 he
was assigned to St. Stephen's in Arlington, New Jersey. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, he received his appointment
as a chaplain in the United States Army. He went on active duty May 9, 1942 and was named Chief of the Chaplains Reserve Pool, Ft. Benjamin
Harrison, Indiana. In June 1942, he was assigned to the 76th Infantry Division in Ft. George Meade, Maryland. In November 1942, he reported
to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and met Chaplains Fox, Goode and Poling at Chaplains School at Harvard.
Father Washington boarded the USAT DORCHESTER at the Embarkation Camp at Boston Harbor in January 1943 enroute to Greenland. Chaplain Washington
was killed in action on February 3, 1943, when the DORCHESTER was sunk by a German U-boat. Chaplain Washington was posthumously awarded the
Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross
United States Army Historical Medal
Four Chaplains' Medal
The Four Chaplains' Medal was established by Act of Congress Public Law 86-656, 86th Congress on July 14, 1960.
A posthumous Special Medal for Heroism, never before given and never to be given again, was authorized
by Congress and awarded by the President 18 Jan 1961. Congress wished to confer the Medal of Honor but was blocked by the stringent
requirements which required heroism performed under fire. The special medal was intended to have the same weight and importance as the Medal
The four chaplains who received this medal were George D. Fox, Alexander D. Goode; Clark V. Poling,
and John P. Washington. The medal was presented posthumously to their next of kin by Secretary of the Army Wilber M. Brucker at Ft. Myer,
Virginia on January 18, 1961.
This medal commemorates the extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty displayed by four American
chaplains during the Second World War. It was awarded posthumously to Chaplains: George D. Fox, Methodist; Alexander D. Goode, Jewish;
Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed; and John P. Washington, Roman Catholic for giving their life vests to others during the sinking of the
troop transport ship Dorchester in the North Atlantic just after midnight on February 2, 1943. The four Chaplains were also posthumously
awarded the Army's Distinguished Service Cross for their extraordinary heroism in action.
Four Chaplains' Medal
Army's Distinguished Service Cross>
Order of Precedence
Since the Four Chaplains' Medal was posthumously awarded to only four recipients, it does not
have a place in the Army's order of precedence.
The Four Chaplains' Medal was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones (1892-1969) of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.
Description and Symbolism
In the center of a gold oval, the general shape of an eagle with elevated wings with an overall width
of two and one-sixteenths inches and height of two and five-eighths inches. The eagle is shown grasping olive branches in both talons; the
branches extend upward and terminate at the eagle's wings, forming a wreath. The soaring eagle is representative of the majesty of the spirit
of the government in renascence.
In the center of a gold oval two inches in width, an open book containing the names of the Four
Chaplains. Above the left side of the book is a cross, and above the right side are the Tablets of Moses with a Star of David. An olive
wreath extends upward from the base of the medal. The Christian Cross and the Tablets of Moses with the Star of David represent the faiths
of the Four Chaplains whose names are inscribed forever in the annals of heroism.
The central stripe of blue is the same shade as the ribbon of the Medal of Honor and symbolizes courage
above and beyond the call of duty. The black edge stripes symbolize the "last full measure of devotion" rendered by the Four Chaplains.
Requiescat in pace!
May they rest in peace!
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Please honor these Heroes.
Web Page was created by
Paul D. Henriott
Webpage reworked, 18 October 2012