Celebrating Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary: The Story of Chaplain Charles Watters


Chaplain (Major) Charles J. Watters, like other Army Chaplains during the Vietnam War, provided spiritual guidance to men in combat and improved morale. Watters, a Catholic priest, spent 16 months with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade. He delivered masses, listened to confessions, and offered counsel.

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Chaplain Watters

Watters willingly faced the hardships of war with his fellow Paratroopers. In February of 1967, he parachuted with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry during Operation JUNCTION CITY, and in May of 1967, he was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor after administering last rites to a fatally wounded man while under heavy enemy fire.

During the Battle of Dak To in November of 1967, Chaplain Watters willingly exposed himself to enemy fire while helping to evacuate wounded Soldiers from the battlefield. While performing last rites on a dying Soldier, he was killed by a bomb mistakenly dropped by an American bomber. A Paratrooper summarized 2nd Battalion’s feelings toward Chaplain Watters: “From beginning to end, he was our Chaplain.” Watters was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Dak To. You can read the MOH inscription here.

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Display of Chaplain Watters at the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum

In honor of his bravery and sacrifice, Fort Bragg named a building after Chaplain Watters called the Watters Chaplain Family Life Training Center.

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