Chaplain Charles Joseph Watters
Greater love has no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his
friends. John 15:13
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 173rd Airborne Brigade. After ministering day and night to the men of the 2nd battalion, 503rd Infantry, in a battle that was to rage for 12 days, he was killed while helping care for the wounded. Chaplain Watters received the award [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. But, it was his investment of his life that he must be 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 them help.
. . . 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 me 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 and of himself, and that investment is still paying spiritual dividends through the lives of the grateful men whose lives he saved.
Medal of Honor Citation Page US Military Gallery Subject Gallery
Medal of Honor photo by Eric Shindelbower.
Chaplain Watters dress greens portrait used by permission of Neil Mishalov - http://www.mishalov.com/
Chaplain's Cross graciously given to me by Chaplain (LTC) Robert M. Santry - Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Chaplain Watters grave site photo by Raymond L. Collins. Used by permission of Michael Patterson - http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com/
Chaplain Watters celebrates Mass in Vietnam - photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, South Carolina - http://www.usachcs.army.mil/
Chaplain Watters 173rd photo used by permission of Neil Mishalov - http://www.mishalov.com/
John 15:13 - The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, published by © 1962 The World Publishing Company.
Chaplain Watters text courtesy of the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, South Carolina - http://www.usachcs.army.mil/
* 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. Courtesy of the U.S. Army Chaplain Museum, Fort Jackson, South Carolina - http://www.usachcs.army.mil/