News: Medal of Honor recipient trains Currahees
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Menzies
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. Charles Hagemeister, retired, assisted with training Currahees with 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Sept. 10 to Sept. 18, 2012 as a member of the Mission Command Training Program from Fort Leavenworth, Kan. during the Warfighter Exercise at the Fort Campbell Kinnard Mission Training Complex at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Hagemeister was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions as a combat medic during a firefight in the Binh Dinh province, Republic of Vietnam.
“It was an honor [to meet him] and incredibly fascinating to hear the story of how he received it and what he had done with the rest of his life,” said Capt. Kelly A. McCarty, the brigade assistant intelligence officer from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div.
While conducting combat operations against a hostile force, Hagemeister’s platoon suddenly came under heavy attack from three sides, the Medal of Honor citation reads. Seeing two of his comrades seriously wounded in the initial action, Hagemeister unhesitatingly and with total disregard for his own safety, raced through the deadly hail of enemy fire to provide them medical aid.
Upon learning that several other Soldiers also had been wounded, Hagemeister continued to brave the withering enemy fire and crawled forward to render lifesaving treatments and to offer words of encouragement.
“He was telling us how he saw a sniper taking shots at him and how “he [sniper] had to go,” said Staff Sgt. Daryl W. Johnson, the brigade intelligence noncommissioned officer in charge from HHC, 4th Bde., 101st Abn. Div.
Hagemeister seized a rifle from a fallen comrade, killed the sniper, and three other enemy soldiers who were attempting to encircle his position. He also silenced an enemy machine gun that covered the entire area with deadly fire.
Unable to move the wounded to a less exposed location because of the enemy’s efforts to isolate his unit, Hagemeister dashed through the fusillade of fire to secure help from a nearby platoon.
“I was shocked to hear that through all of that contact, he was never injured,” said Johnson.”Especially after hearing [Hagemeister] tell about the three bullet holes found in his left sleeve and the bag he was carrying.”
He later became a commissioned officer and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel before choosing to retire.
Though currently Hagemeister primarily injects opposing force simulations for nine months out of the year as part of his duties as a member of the MCTP, he takes time out to talk to soldiers and show them a little piece of history, his Medal of Honor.
“If I don’t carry it out here and share it, then the soldiers don’t get to ever see one,” said Hagemeister.
To Hagemeister it is a privilege to show his medal to active duty soldiers, he thrives on the opportunity that his job provides for him to interact with soldiers on a personal level.
I most enjoy seeing the soldiers and their reaction to the medal, said Hagemeister. Sharing my story with them and hearing theirs, is what keeps me young.
With Hagemeister living now in the civilian world but still continuing to passionately work alongside military Service members, it is no surprise that today’s soldiers are in awe of his contributions to their history.
“It was an honor to meet him and it made me proud,” said Johnson. “It is really inspiring to hear his story.”
“I think it is important for soldiers to have the opportunity put a real face on the heroes they read about in history or watch in films,” said McCarty.
When you think about Hagemeister being part of the team training at the warfighter, it really shows the caliber of individuals with their experience who are training and preparing Soldiers, said McCarty.