Charles James “Charlie” Liteky

Charles James “Charlie” Liteky

Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia, USA
Death 20 Jan 2017 (aged 85)
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Burial San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA
Plot CF-362
Memorial ID 175586576 · View Source
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American Medal of Honor Recipient, Peace Activist. Also known as Angelo J. Liteky, he was an Army chaplain in Vietnam who was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing more than 20 wounded men but later gave it back in protest and became a peace activist. After graduating high school, he attended Chipola Junior College and University of Florida before enrolling at St. Joseph's Missionary Seminary, Holy Trinity, Alabama. He entered Military Service in 1966 and attended Army Chaplin School and was ssigned to Headquarters Co. of the 199th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam from April 1967 to Oct. 1968. The Army awarded him the highest military decoration for his actions on Dec. 6, 1967, when his company came under intense fire from an enemy battalion in Bien Hoa province. Despite painful wounds in the neck and foot, Liteky carried more than 20 men to the landing zone to be evacuated during the fierce firefight. For his actions, President Lyndon Johnson honored Mr. Liteky a year later with the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for service in combat. His citation read: "Chaplain Liteky distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while serving with Company A, 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry, 199th Light Infantry Brigade. He was participating 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. On several occasions when the landing zone was under small arms and rocket fire, Chaplain Liteky stood up in the face of hostile fire and personally directed the medivac helicopters into and out of the area. With the wounded safely evacuated, Chaplain Liteky returned to the perimeter, constantly encouraging and inspiring the men. Upon the unit's relief on the morning of 7 December 1967, it was discovered that despite painful wounds in the neck and foot, Chaplain Liteky had personally carried over 20 men to the landing zone for evacuation during the savage fighting. Through his indomitable inspiration and heroic actions, Chaplain Liteky saved the lives of a number of his comrades and enabled the company to repulse the enemy. Chaplain Liteky's actions reflect great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army". He left the priesthood in 1975 and in 1983, married former Catholic nun and peace activist Judy Balch in San Francisco. Twenty years after his heroic actions in Vietnam, he left the Medal of Honor and a letter to then President Ronald Reagan at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in protest of the country's foreign policy in Central America. After that, Liteky spent years protesting against the U.S. Army School of the Americas, an academy at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the U.S. Army trained soldiers from Central and South America and the Caribbean. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison in 2000 for entering the school without permission and splashing its rotunda with blood. In 2003, he traveled to Baghdad with other peace protesters to work with children in an orphanage and at hospitals. Liteky, who died of natural causes, requested there be no funeral service.

Bio by: Louis du Mort

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Louis du Mort
  • Added: 21 Jan 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 175586576
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Charles James “Charlie” Liteky (14 Feb 1931–20 Jan 2017), Find a Grave Memorial no. 175586576, citing Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .