Mark Alexander / May 20, 2021

Farewell: Charles ‘Chuck’ Hagemeister

The term “hero” is grossly overused — but understated here.

Medal of Honor recipient Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” Hagemeister died unexpectedly Wednesday. The Nebraska native was 74. Our nation’s highest military honor is awarded for valor – for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of their lives “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Chuck was a Vietnam veteran — Specialist Fifth Class U.S. Army, HHC, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division at the time of his actions. During a night attack in Binh Dinh province on 20 March 1967, Chuck, a medic, ran through a hail of enemy fire coming from three vectors to defend injured Americans and render aid. According to his Medal of Honor Citation, “Hagemeister’s repeated heroic and selfless actions at the risk of his life saved the lives of many of his comrades and inspired their actions in repelling the enemy assault.”

In an interview a year after his heroic efforts, Chuck said, “The pressure of a crisis situation makes you realize what you’re made of. If you do your job and a little bit for somebody else, you’ll usually come through.” A life lesson. The term “hero” is grossly overused today, but as it relates to Chuck and his fellow recipients, the word is understated.

Chuck was a major advocate for the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center character education curriculums. The last time we were together was for the opening of the Heritage Center in February of 2020 in Chattanooga, Tennessee — the birthplace of the Medal of Honor. At the time, among our nation’s 330 million people, there were only 71 living MoH recipients. With Chuck’s passing, there are now only 65.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Barbara; two children; and two grandchildren. He leaves a large void in the effort to extend the blessings of American Liberty from this generation to the next.

(Visit the National Medal of Honor Heritage Center website.)

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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