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Saturday, May 25, 2024

HMCM William R. Charette, NMC Portsmouth, VA in HM1 Peck, USN(RET)’s own Words

This is the 2nd user article submission.  While it was short, it was to the point!  I added a bit more from Brian Williams of NBC News who is a major supporter of the military.  BZ to them both!–D/C

HMCM William R. Charette, CMOH Awardee

HMCM William R. Charette, CMOH Awardee

When a visitor enters the lobby of the “old” Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA, this visitor sees on both sides of a passageway a gallery
of photos and letters attached to each photo. This is an accountability of former Pharmacists Mates, Hopitalmen, and Navy Corpsman who earned the nations higest award, The Congressional Medal of Honor. These bios go back as far as the Civil War. When one reads the Leters of Commendation attached to these photos, one asks,

“Who were these men?”

“Where were they from?”

Read the commendations and one can see, these men did not ask to heros, they did the job they were trained for.

Research of WWII history tells us four Navy Corpsman earned this medal on Iwo Jima and three were award during the battle of Okinawa.

These men were from different States of the US and they did not look to be heros, they were trained in he tradition of the US Navy Hospital
Corp, and joined the Navy to serve thier country. They alone knew the hazards and where willing to serve when called. Some gave thier life.

The “new” Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA, is named for William R. Charette, Hospital Corpsman Third Class of MIchigan, who
was awarded the Nations Highest Award, for action in Korea in 1953.

The following was written by Brian Williams of NBC News back in 2007.  A great Article.  Original can be found here:  Brian Williams Article

William Charette’s parents died when he was four, and he was raised by an uncle. After high school, he took a job on a Lake Michigan ferryboat, which led him to join the Navy. There was a shortage of medical corpsmen, so he volunteered. He worked in a Navy hospital for a year, then volunteered again, this time as a medic with the Marine Corps. He was assigned to a rifle company in the Seventh Marines in Korea. In the spring of 1953, Navy Corpsman Charette’s Marine unit was in an area near Panmunjom between North and South Korea, guarding the route to the South Korean capital of Seoul.

In the early-morning hours of March 27, Chinese troops overran three outposts on a hill the Americans called Vegas; the Marines counterattacked to retake the position several hours later. It was the beginning of a solid twenty-four hours of combat. The well-entrenched enemy hit the Americans with small arms and mortar fire. As the Marines tried to ascend Vegas Hill, the Chinese rolled grenades down on them. There were so many explosions that Charette couldn’t keep count.

At one point, he was working on a badly wounded rifleman when a Chinese grenade hit nearby. Figuring that the man couldn’t survive another wound, Charette threw himself over his body. The explosion tore off Charette’s helmet, destroyed his medical pack, and knocked him out. When he came to and couldn’t see because of the blood in his eyes caused by shrapnel wounds to his face, he thought he was blind. But his vision eventually cleared, and he returned to his duties. Charette’s medical supplies were destroyed by enemy fire, but he improvised by tearing off pieces of his uniform to make bandages for the men in his unit as well as for those in nearby platoons. He put his own battle vest on a wounded Marine whose vest had been destroyed by an explosion. When a trench was completely blown out, he swiftly went to the aid of five soldiers wounded in the explosion. One of them was severely injured, his leg nearly severed.

When the order came at dawn to pull back and Marines started carrying the wounded out, they had to bend down to avoid enemy fire and were unable to get the man out without injuring him further. Charette picked the Marine up in his arms and, standing up despite enemy guns, carried him to safety. Following this engagement, Charette was pulled back in reserve. He was recommended for the Navy Cross, but as the citation was forwarded up through the ranks, it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

In all, five Navy corpsmen were recommended for the medal during the Korean War. Charette was the only one who survived to receive it. On Jan. 12, 1954, William Charette received the medal from President Dwight Eisenhower. The man who explained the protocol for the ceremony to him, submarine commander Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr., the president’s naval aide, went on to write the best-selling Run Silent, Run Deep. Years later Charette served under Beach on the USS Triton.


8 Responses to “HMCM William R. Charette, NMC Portsmouth, VA in HM1 Peck, USN(RET)’s own Words”
  1. William [Billy Will Charette] says:

    I am a professional Actor, Member of & Signatori to SAG (25 years) and AFTRA (25 years+). My professional name is registered with the Screen Actors Guild as “WILLIAM CHARETTE” and AFTRA as “WILL CHARETTE.” I am professionally represented by Baskow & Associates, 2948 E. Russell Road, Las Vegas, Nevada 89120, 702-733-7818 [www.baskow.com]
    I am also a 25 year+ member of NARAS (Grammy's) as WILL CHARETTE, a Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Producer and founder of GoodworksMusic™ and Jubilato Publishing, BMI.
    I am related to William R Charette “Doc” who is a War Hero, but we are NOT the same person. Documents and letters that have been shared with me personally [William R (William”Doc” ) to William F. (William/Will/Billy) ], and with Alan Ames and Associates,which are being used, at this time, without my permission. The current producers, through Alan Ames & Associates, a program which was copyrighted as “Acts of Valor,” was previously being shopped as an attachment to a Military Museum in Houston, Texas. That project was dropped due to potential negative discoveries. The documents have resurfaced to give the appearance of Doc's endorsement to a hybrid presentation of the original presentation without full disclosure to Doc and without Doc's permission. For further information contact William (F) Charette (on Facebook as “Billy Will Charette.” Thank You

  2. William "Billy Will" Charette says:

    To “Doc” and his supporters,
    I am extremely proud of my cousin and salute his presence with utmost dignity for his contribution to God, My Country, My Family and My Freedom. God Bless and Thank You “Doc” Charette.

  3. Olebear380 says:

    Hi Mr Charette. My name is Richard Taylor and I too was a “DOC”. I went through Hospital corps School at Great Lakes in 1954 and knew and worked for DOC Charette. This was shortly after he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Is he still living and if so how could I contact him? I left the Navy after 10 yrs and never saw him again. I was in Norfolk when he picked the body of the Unknown soldier. I am very proud to have known him . My brother was also a Corpman and served in Korea with the Marines in 50 & 51. Olebear380@aol.com

  4. Jim Parrish2 says:

    I met him yesterday in Winter Haven, Fl. I’m sure he is a resident of Florida as I followed him to Gessler clinic. We both had appointment there.

  5. Jonstrane05 says:

    my grandfather, George L Charette, whose brother was ( I think this right) Billy Charette’s guardian after his parents died..I tracked Uncle Billy down cpl of yrs ago…and talked to him, told him who I was…he was quite modest when i asked him about what exactly went on on that day in Korea…My uncle Billy Charette, God Bless you, you served your country well…. Well Done, Uncle Billy!

  6. Refrick1 says:

    I had the honor of working with and saluting Master Chief Charette. He was a masterful sailor and a true American hero. RDML R.E. Frick, USN (Ret).

  7. Efrain Chaidez says:

    Master Chief, may your soul rest in peace and your life and memories serve as a reminder and example as to what a Sailor truly is. 

  8. I actually think this amazing blog , “HMCM William
    R. Charette, NMC Portsmouth, VA in HM1 Peck, USN(RET)