CHARLES J WATTERS

CHARLES J WATTERS - MAJ

  • HOMETOWN:
  • berkeley heights
  • COUNTY:
  • Union
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • January 17, 1927
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • November 19, 1967
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • MAJ
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Charles Joseph Watters was born on January 17, 1927, in Jersey City, NJ. His home of record is Berkeley Heights, NJ. He had two brothers, Edward and Kenneth. Educated at Seton Hall College and Immaculate Conception Seminary, Father Watters was ordained on May 30, 1953. Following his ordination, he served parishes in Jersey City, Rutherford, Paramus and Cranford, NJ.

He entered the US Army. In 1962, he became a Chaplain in the New Jersey Air National Guard. Two years later, he entered on active duty as an Army Chaplain. He attained the rank of Major (MAJ).

Ordered to Vietnam in 1966, Watters had already served the required twelve-month tour and had voluntarily extended for an additional six months. Assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, he was with his unit when it assaulted Hill 875 near Dak To.

It was on Hill 875, on November 19, 1967, in the Kontum Providence of South Vietnam while providing spiritual and medical relief to wounded soldiers, that Chaplain Watters was killed in action. Father Watters was killed when an American plane accidentally bombed the position, killing him and 20 others.

John Berry recalls the last time he saw Charles just before he died. As Charles helped the many wounded soldiers, John asked him where his helmet was. Charles replied, "I hold my protection a little higher."

Charles died at the age of 40 taking with him the Purple Heart and the respect and admiration of everyone he knew. He was also awarded the Bronze Star and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
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 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 2 forces in order to recover 2 wounded soldiers. Later, when the battalion was forced to pull back into a perimeter, Chaplain Watters noticed 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 fire, 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.

The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest honor that is awarded.

Sources: Kenneth Watters (brother) and NJVVMF.

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