On Sam Wetzel’s desk inside his comfortable north Columbus home, tastefully decorated with rugs, art and artifacts collected during a distinguished and lengthy military career that took a lanky West Virginia kid around the world and back, sits a piece of paper.
Handwritten on the page are 16 names, all U.S. Army soldiers killed in action while under Wetzel’s command in Vietnam in the summer and fall of 1968 and the first couple of weeks of ‘69. For more than six months, Wetzel, a lieutenant colonel at the time, commanded 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment.
In front of each name is the date the soldier met his fate, and to the right of the name is the soldier’s rank. Some have coordinates that show the exact location the soldier was killed. There are also hometowns, places like New York, New York, and Wichita Falls, Texas.
Wetzel, a devout Catholic, takes the list to St. Anne’s Church for weekly Mass. “I pray for these guys every Saturday night,” Wetzel said.
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