CHARLES J WATTERS
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HONORED ON PANEL 30E, LINE 36 OF THE WALL

CHARLES JOSEPH WATTERS

WALL NAME

CHARLES J WATTERS

PANEL / LINE

30E/36

DATE OF BIRTH

01/17/1927

CASUALTY PROVINCE

KONTUM

DATE OF CASUALTY

11/19/1967

HOME OF RECORD

BERKELEY HEIGHTS

COUNTY OF RECORD

Union County

STATE

NJ

BRANCH OF SERVICE

ARMY

RANK

MAJ

ASSOCIATED ITEMS LEFT AT THE WALL

REMEMBRANCES

LEFT FOR CHARLES JOSEPH WATTERS
POSTED ON 3.3.2019
POSTED BY: wkillian@smjuhsd.org

Misadventure (Friendly Fire)

On November 19, 1967, during the Battle of Dak, one of the worst friendly fire incidents of the Vietnam War occurred when a Marine Corps fighter-bomber dropped two bombs into the perimeter where officers and noncommissioned officers of 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry had set up a command post with their radio operators. The soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade were dug in on the steep southern slope of Hill 875, fighting beside napalm fires and exposed to the guns of North Vietnamese Army shooting from tunnels nearby. Just past dusk, after making three dry runs over the battlefield, the Marine Corps A-4 attack jet descended to 1,000 feet above the jungle and released two 250-pound Mk-81 bombs fitted with Snakeye fins. Barreling in on a shallow 10-degree angle at hundreds of miles per hour, the two bombs from the A-4 hit the ground. One was a dud. The other exploded in a huge orange fireball. Instead of hitting the North Vietnamese, the bomb struck the branches of a lone tree along the Americans’ perimeter, under which the battalion had set up their command post. It was also a casualty-collection point where the most badly wounded soldiers were being treated by medics while awaiting medevac helicopters to take them off the hill. The bomb killed 21 men and wounded 10 more, including most of the remaining senior leaders and medics. A single radio operator was spared when he was protected by a pile of broken tree trunks that absorbed deadly fragments. The dead included MAJ Charles Watters, a 40-year-old Catholic priest who served as the battalion’s chaplain. Earlier in the battle, Watters had ventured out past the perimeter several times to rescue wounded soldiers, carrying or dragging them to safety, providing first aid and administering last rites to the dying—actions for which he was later awarded the Medal of Honor. After witnessing what happened below, a crewman on a U.S. Air Force AC-47 “Spooky” gunship flying in a slow circle 3,000 feet above the dead and wounded troops tossed parachute flares out the back of the plane to help survivors on the ground see in the darkness. The lost Americans included PFC Mario A. Cisneros, SP4 Gary R. Cooper, SP4 Gerald L. George Jr., SP4 Mark R. Hering, SP4 Thomas P. Huddleston, PVT Roger A. Kros, PFC Robert C. La Vallee Jr., SP4 Andrew J. Orosz, PFC William A. Ross, SP4 Robert J. Sanders, SP4 Jack H. Shoop Jr., SP4 Lewis B. Smith, PFC James R. Speller, SP4 Harry E. Stephens, 1LT Richard W. Thompson, PFC Richard Walker Jr., MAJ Charles J. Watters, and SSG Remer G. Williams. The remains of three Skysoldiers have never been found—SP4 Jack L. Croxdale II, PFC Benjamin D. DeHerrera, and SGT Donald Iandoli. A January 1968 U.S. Air Force investigation into the incident was inconclusive, declaring that “there is insufficient evidence to determine the exact cause of the short round” before blaming “improper release conditions.” The investigator recommended that pilots undergo remedial training and that the investigation be closed, as it had revealed “no gross personnel errors nor evidence of equipment malfunction.” [Taken from coffeltdatabase.org and “The Secret History of a Vietnam War Airstrike Gone Terribly Wrong” by John Ismay, nytimes.com, January 2019]
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POSTED ON 12.10.2018
POSTED BY: jerry sandwisch wood cty.ohio vietnam vet 1969-70 army 173rd abn bde

You are not forgotten

The war may be forgotten but the warrior will always be remembered. All gave Some-Some gave All. Rest in peace Sky Soldier.
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POSTED ON 11.20.2018

Omnipresence

There were approximately 300 of us who initiated the fight for Hill 875 that infamous November morn.From the outset, our perimeter was impossible to define. How the the padre managed to embed himself in every conceivable location within our ranks is beyond my comprehension.
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POSTED ON 11.19.2018
POSTED BY: A Grateful Vietnam Veteran

Medal of Honor Citation

Charles Joseph Watters

Father Watters served in the New Jersey National Guard before joining the active duty Army. He was the nephew of Navy Boatswain's Mate John J. Doran who received the Medal of Honor in the Spanish-American War.

Medal of Honor
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING Vietnam War
Service: Army
Battalion: 173d Support Battalion
GENERAL ORDERS:
Department of the Army, General Orders No. 71 (November 20, 1969)
CITATION:
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Major (Chaplain) Charles Joseph Watters (ASN: 0-3139624), United States Army (Reserve), for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, 173d Support Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade, in action against enemy aggressor forces in an assault on Hill 875, Dak To, Kontum Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 19 November 1967. 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 United States Army.
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POSTED ON 11.19.2018
POSTED BY: Janice Current

An American Hero

Thank you for your service and your sacrifice. Thank you for stepping up and answering your country's call. Rest easy knowing you will never be forgotten.
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