America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan

By James H. Willbanks | Go to book overview

Liteky, Angelo J.

Born: February 14, 1931

Died:

Home State: Florida

Service: Army

Conflict: Vietnam War

Age at Time of Award: 34

Angelo J. (Charles) Liteky was born on February 14, 1931, in Washington, D.C. The son of a career Navy petty officer, he grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. A gift ed football and basketball player, Liteky received an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida. After two years of college, he entered seminary and was ordained a Catholic priest in the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity in 1960. Six years later, Liteky volunteered to become an Army chaplain.

On December 6, 1967, Liteky was on his first combat patrol, accompanying two platoons from the 4th Battalion, 12th Infantry of the 199th Infantry Brigade on a search-and-destroy mission near Phuoc Lac, in Bien Hoa province, Republic of Vietnam. While pursuing what they thought was a small band of guerillas through a rice paddy, the unit stumbled across the base camp of a Viet Cong battalion. An intense firefight broke out, killing one medic, wounding another, and forcing the Americans to take cover. In the ensuing chaos, Liteky—according to the official citation—crawled “to within 15 meters of an enemy machine gun position” to tend to two wounded soldiers, dragging them to safety. Liteky’s actions inspired an American rally during which he continued to minister to the dead or dying, dragging other soldiers to safety, at times walking upright under enemy fire. Wounded in the neck and foot by shrapnel, Liteky continued to expose himself in order to aid his men and “personally directed the medivac helicopters in and out of the area.” By the time the fighting ended, Liteky “had personally carried over 20 men to the landing zone for evacuation,” all the while under heavy fire. For these actions, President Lyndon B. Johnson presented the Medal of Honor to Chaplain Liteky at a White House ceremony on November 19, 1968. He became only the fifth chaplain since the Civil War to receive the Medal of Honor and the only nonposthumous chaplain recipient during the Vietnam War.

Following receipt of the medal, Liteky volunteered for a second Vietnam tour. He served as chaplain to the 17th Field Hospital in An Khe in 1969 until his return to the United States in June 1970.

Troubled by the Catholic Church’s requirement of priestly celibacy, Liteky took a leave of absence from the priesthood—thereby ending his duty as an Army chaplain—in 1971. Liteky eventually left the priesthood in 1975. His 1983 marriage to a former nun, Judy Blanch, precipitated a shift in Liteky’s social consciousness.

On July 29, 1986, Liteky placed his medal in an envelope at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. Accompanying the Medal was a letter addressed to President Ronald Reagan renouncing the award in protest of US military involvement in Central America. In doing so, he became the only recipient to publicly renounce and return his medal.

Later in 1986, Liteky joined two other Vietnam veterans, and one from World War II, in a public fast on the US Capitol steps as part of a “Campaign of Conscience” against US foreign policy. Later, Liteky’s 1990 fast outside, and subsequent acts of civil disobedience inside, Fort Benning, Georgia, aimed at the “School of the Americas” led to several arrests and periods of incarceration for trespassing and destruction of federal property. As a result of his civil disobedience, Liteky is also the only Medal of Honor recipient to be a named appellant in a US Supreme Court decision (Liteky v. United States). Liteky appealed his 1991 federal criminal conviction for destruction of government property during a protest at Fort Benning, Georgia, to the US Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction in 1994.

In 2002 and 2003, Angelo Liteky joined other peace activists in Baghdad to oppose the then-impending US invasion of Iraq. As of 2010 Liteky lives in San Francisco, California, with his wife, Judy, where he is writing his memoir and continuing to speak out against US military intervention abroad.

Bradley L. Carter


Further Reading

Ackermann, Henry F. He Was Always There: The U.S. Army Chaplain Ministry in the Vietnam Conflict. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, 1989.

Venzke, Rodger R. Confidence in Battle, Inspiration in Peace: The United States Army Chaplaincy 1945–1975. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Department of the Army, 1977.

-181-

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America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Entries ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Adams, Lucian 1
  • Baca, John P. 2
  • Bacon, Nicky Daniel 4
  • Baker, Vernon 6
  • Baldwin, Frank D. 8
  • Ballard, Donald E. 11
  • Barfoot, Van T. 13
  • Barnum, Harvey C., Jr 14
  • Barrett, Carlton W. 16
  • Basilone, John 18
  • Benavidez, Roy P. 20
  • Birkhimer, William E. 22
  • Blake, Robert 24
  • Bleak, David B. 25
  • Boyington, Gregory 27
  • Brady, Patrick Henry 29
  • Britt, Maurice L. 30
  • Brown, Bobbie E. 32
  • Bucha, Paul William 34
  • Burke, Lloyd L. 36
  • Bush, Robert Eugene 38
  • Butler, Smedley Darlington 40
  • Butterfield, Daniel 42
  • Cafferata, Hector a., Jr 43
  • Carney, William H. 45
  • Cavaiani, Jon R. 48
  • Chamberlain, Joshua L. 49
  • Childers, Ernest 51
  • Cody, William F. 53
  • Cohn, Abraham 55
  • Cole, Robert G. 57
  • Craft, Clarence B. 59
  • Crandall, Bruce P. 61
  • Custer, Thomas W. 63
  • Dahlgren, John Olof 65
  • Daly, Daniel Joseph 67
  • Davila, Rudolph B. 69
  • Davis, Charles W. 70
  • Davis, Raymond G. 73
  • Davis, Sammy L. 74
  • Day, George E. 76
  • Dean, William F. 78
  • Deblanc, Jefferson Joseph 79
  • Dix, Drew Dennis 81
  • Donlon, Roger Hugh C. 84
  • Donovan, William Joseph 85
  • Doolittle, James H. 87
  • Doss, Desmond T. 88
  • Dunham, Jason L. 90
  • Dunham, Russell E. 91
  • Dyess, Aquilla James 93
  • Ehlers, Walter D. 96
  • Evans, Ernest Edwin 98
  • Faith, Don C., Jr 100
  • Finn, John William 102
  • Fletcher, Frank Jack 104
  • Fluckey, Eugene Bennett 105
  • Foley, Robert F. 107
  • Foss, Joseph Jacob 109
  • Fox, John Robert 112
  • Freeman, Ed W. 113
  • Funston, Frederick 115
  • Galer, Robert Edward 117
  • García, Macario 119
  • Gonsalves, Harold 121
  • Gonzalez, Alfredo 123
  • Gordon, Gary I. 125
  • Hagemeister, Charles Chris 126
  • Harmon, Roy W. 128
  • Harrell, William George 130
  • Hatch, John P. 131
  • Hayashi, Shizuya 133
  • Hayes, Webb C. 134
  • Heard, John W. 137
  • Hendrix, James R. 139
  • Hernández, Rodolfo P. 140
  • Herrera, Silvestre S. 142
  • Hooper, Joe R. 144
  • Howard, Oliver O. 146
  • Howard, Robert L. 148
  • Inouye, Daniel K. 150
  • Irwin, Bernard J. D. 154
  • Izac, Edouard Victor Michel 155
  • Jackson, Joe M. 158
  • Jacobs, Jack H. 160
  • Joel, Lawrence 162
  • Kaufman, Benjamin 164
  • Keeble, Woodrow W. 166
  • Kelly, Charles E. 167
  • Kerrey, Joseph R. 169
  • Kisters, Gerry H. 171
  • Kouma, Ernest R. 173
  • Lang, George C. 175
  • Lemon, Peter C. 177
  • Levitow, John L. 178
  • Liteky, Angelo J. 181
  • Livingston, James E. 182
  • Lopez, Jose M. 184
  • Lucas, Jacklyn Harold 186
  • Luke, Frank, Jr 189
  • Mabry, George L., Jr 191
  • Macarthur, Arthur, Jr 193
  • Macarthur, Douglas 195
  • Mackie, John F. 198
  • Mallon, George H. 200
  • Marm, Walter Joseph, Jr 201
  • Martinez, Joe P. 203
  • McCool, Richard Miles, Jr 204
  • McGinnis, Ross A. 206
  • McGinty, John J., III 207
  • McKinney, John R. 209
  • Merli, Gino J. 211
  • Miles, L. Wardlaw 213
  • Miles, Nelson A. 214
  • Millett, Lewis L. 218
  • Miyamura, Hiroshi H. 220
  • Mize, Ola L. 223
  • Moffett, William A. 225
  • Monsoor, Michael A. 226
  • Monti, Jared C. 227
  • Munemori, Sadao S. 229
  • Munro, Douglas Albert 231
  • Murphy, Audie L. 233
  • Murphy, Michael P. 235
  • Murphy, Raymond G. 236
  • Norris, Thomas R. 238
  • Novosel, Michael J. 240
  • O’Hare, Edward Henry 243
  • O’Kane, Richard Hetherington 245
  • Okubo, James K. 246
  • Olive, Milton L., III 248
  • O’Neill, Richard W. 249
  • Page, John U. D. 251
  • Paige, Mitchell 254
  • Parker, Samuel I. 256
  • Pennypacker, Galusha 258
  • Penry, Richard A. 260
  • Pitsenbarger, William H. 262
  • Pittman, John A. 264
  • Pittman, Richard A. 265
  • Pope, Everett Parker 267
  • Pope, Thomas A. 269
  • Rascon, Alfred V. 271
  • Ray, Ronald Eric 273
  • Red Cloud, Mitchell, Jr 275
  • Rickenbacker, Edward V. 278
  • Roberts, Gordon R. 279
  • Rocco, Louis R. 281
  • Rodriguez, Joseph C. 283
  • Roosevelt, Theodore 285
  • Rosser, Ronald E. 287
  • Rubin, Tibor 289
  • Rudolph, Donald E. 291
  • Ruiz, Alejandro R. Renteria 293
  • Sakato, George T. 294
  • Salomon, Ben L. 296
  • Sandlin, Willie 298
  • Sasser, Clarence Eugene 300
  • Schofield, John M. 302
  • Shafter, William R. 303
  • Shoup, David Monroe 305
  • Shughart, Randall D. 307
  • Sickles, Daniel E. 310
  • Sijan, Lance P. 312
  • Simanek, Robert E. 313
  • Sitter, Carl L. 315
  • Smith, Andrew Jackson 317
  • Smith, Paul R. 319
  • Spurrier, Junior J. 320
  • Stockdale, James B. 322
  • Stone, James L. 324
  • Stowers, Freddie 326
  • Thornton, Michael Edwin 327
  • Thorsness, Leo K. 329
  • Titus, Calvin Pearl 332
  • Turner, George B. 333
  • Urban, Matt 335
  • Vandegrift, Alexander Archer 337
  • Vargas, Jay R. 339
  • Versace, Humbert R. 341
  • Wahlen, George Edward 343
  • Wai, Francis B. 345
  • Wainwright, Jonathan M. 347
  • Walker, Dr. Mary E. 349
  • Ware, Keith L. 350
  • Warren, Francis E. 352
  • Watson, George 353
  • Watters, Charles Joseph 354
  • Webb, Alexander S. 358
  • Wetzel, Gary George 360
  • Whiteley, Eli 362
  • Whittington, Hulon B. 363
  • Williams, Hershel Woodrow 365
  • Wilson, Louis Hugh, Jr. 367
  • Wood, Leonard 369
  • Woodfill, Samuel 372
  • York, Alvin C. 373
  • Young, Rodger W. 375
  • Zabitosky, Fred William 377
  • Zeamer, Jay, Jr. 379
  • Recipients of the Medal of Honor 381
  • Double Award Recipients 487
  • Medals of Honor Awarded by Conflict and Service 489
  • Bibliography 493
  • Index 511
  • About the Editor 529
  • Contributors 531
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