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Allan R. Wetzel

Company A-1

19 Aug 1938 - 9 May 2006

Place of Death: Crossville, TN

Interment: Arlington National Cemetery

It is with great regret and sorrow that I must notify you of the death of our Classmate, Al Wetzel, on May 9, 2006 in Crossville, TN.  Al was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on June 5, 2006.  He is survived by his wife, June; son and daughter-in-law, Allan Wetzel II and Cindy of Cedar Rapids, IA; daughters and son-in-law, JoAnne Wetzel of Knoxville and Kristia and James Ellis of Pikeville; and grandchildren, Trey Webb, Kyle Wetzel, Jack Wetzel, Danielle Wetzel, Samantha Ellis and Julie Ellis.

Condolences may be sent to the family at 1652 Hillendale Road, Crossville, TN 38572-3197. In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Al may be made to the JROTC Program, c/o First United Methodist Church, PO Box 752, Crossville, TN  38557.


Class Memorial Pages\A-1 Al Wetzell.pdf


Col. (Ret.) Allan R. Wetzel, 67, of Crossville, passed away May 9, 2006. Memorial services will be held at 4 p.m. Friday, May 12, at First United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Carl Thackston officiating. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

Col. Wetzel was born Aug. 19, 1938, in Green Bay, WI, the son of Herb and Irene Wetzel.

He was retired from the U.S. Army, attiring the rank of colonel. He was also a member of the First United Methodist Church. He enjoyed bicycling, gardening and loved to read, especially books of military science. He will be remembered for helping institute the JROTC program in place at Cumberland County High School.

Survivors include his wife, June Wetzel of Crossville; son and daughter-in-law, Allan Wetzel II and Cindy of Cedar Rapids, IA; daughters and son-in-law, JoAnne Wetzel of Knoxville and Kristia and James Ellis of Pikeville; and grandchildren, Trey Webb, Kyle Wetzel, Jack Wetzel, Danielle Wetzel, Samantha Ellis and Julie Ellis.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Gloria Wetzel.

The family has respectfully asked that donations be made to the JROTC program, c/o First United Methodist Church, PO Box 752, Crossville, TN 38557.

Hood Funeral Home and Crematory, LLC was in charge of the arrangements.

The Crossville Chronicle

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

Cullum No. 23633-1961 | May 9, 2006
Died in Crossville, TN
Interred at Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Alan Raymond “Al” Wetzel is one of the most combat-decorated members of his West Point Class of 1961. He was an outstanding combat leader. And he was a caring, sensitive human being. Yet, despite coming to West Point from the enlisted ranks of the Army, he was not a happy camper as a cadet. The Fourth Class “System” of his era did not sit well with his personality.

Al was born in Green Bay, WI. After losing his birth parents, he was adopted. His adoptive parents both died after his graduation from West Point. Al enlisted in the Army shortly after high school. During his enlistment it became apparent that West Point was a possibility for him. He received a presidential appointment and joined the Class of 1961 on July 2, 1957.

An astute observer might have noted the qualities that underlay the heroism to come. He was a burly lad, and when he wrestled (once he was assured his opponent was robust enough not to be hurt) he could unleash a strength, agility and aggressiveness that was extraordinary and surprising, given his usual sweet and considerate personality. Had he been so inclined, he might well have been a member of the corps squad Wrestling Team. He was a well camouflaged tiger, though his carrot top might have been a tip-off.

He survived his four years at the Rockbound Highland Home and graduated in 1961. He more than met the challenges of a tour in Vietnam and, in fact, thrived in the elemental way West Point would have him thrive.

Al first met his future wife-to-be, June, when his family moved from Wisconsin to Florida prior to his senior year in high school. They corresponded during his enlistment and his four years at West Point. June traveled to West Point to attend his graduation. The next day they were married.

Al was commissioned into the Armor branch upon graduation. His first assignment was with the 2nd Squadron of the 15th Cavalry Regiment and then the 4th Cavalry Regiment. He received an Army Commendation Medal for each of these assignments.

He then transferred to the Infantry branch and was assigned to the 14th Infantry Regiment of the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1967. As a rifle company commander, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his heroism in battle in Tay Ninh City on February 16, 1968. Al is one of five classmates who have been awarded the DSC. During his command tour in Vietnam, Al was also awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with the “V” device, the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service, four Purple Heart Awards for wounds received, and the Air Medal.

Upon completion of his Vietnam tour, he was assigned to West Point as a tactical officer for three years and then a follow-on assignment as a tactical officer at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating from the Army Command and General Staff College in 1973, Al was assigned to the 8th Infantry Division in Germany, where he served as the division secretary of the General Staff for the last two years of his time in Germany. Upon return to the United States, he was assigned to Headquarters of Forces Command at Fort McPherson, GA for two years before being reassigned to the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, WA for three and a half years. Al was on the division staff for two years and was the division IG the last one and a half years. Next, he was selected to attend the U.S. Army War College, from which he graduated in 1983. After graduation he returned to Forces Command for three years before being assigned as the deputy chief of staff for training, Fifth Army at Fort Sam Houston, TX. Al served in this position for four years before retiring as a colonel in 1990. In addition to the awards cited, Al also received the Legion of Merit, another Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service and two Meritorious Service Medals.

His citation for his DSC reveals what lay beneath his usual sweet personality. To paraphrase his citation:

“While conducting a mission in the city of Tay Ninh, Vietnam, on February 16, 1968 Captain Wetzel’s unit came under intense attack by a battalion size enemy force. He quickly organized an effective response, dashed through intense enemy fire to an American armored personnel carrier to warn of an impending rocket attack, arriving simultaneously with the attack, and despite being wounded in such rocket attack supervised the evacuation of the crew and commanded his unit’s effective defense until reinforcements arrived.”

During retirement he was a member of the First United Methodist Church. In his last years, he was president of the Upper Cumberland Chapter of the East Tennessee Military Officers Association. As president, he successfully started a JROTC program at Cumberland High School. When the original instructor was recalled to Iraq, Al stepped in and ran the program himself. He was very proud of what he accomplished with his JROTC students. His memorial service attendees were both retirees and high school students. Al is predeceased by his sister, Gloria. He is survived by his wife, June Wetzel of Crossville, TN; his daughter Kristia, and her husband, James Ellis, and their daughters, Samantha and Julie, living in Pikeville, TN; and his son, Allan Wetzel II, and his sons: Trey Webb, Kyle Wetzel and Jack Wetzel. Allan is living in Quincy, IL. Kyle and his wife, Allison, have Al’s first great-granddaughter, Rowan. Al’s second daughter, JoAnne Wetzel, is living in Knoxville, TN. Al and June lived a long, wonderful and proud life together.

— June Wetzel and JoAnne Wetzel and classmates Rod Cameron, Bill Williamson and Paul Palmer