Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TFH 11/21: SFC Dave W. Wentzel, USA

Dave Wesley Wentzel was born on February 25, 1924. His hometown of record was Mover County, Minnesota, and his service to our Nation began in the United States Army during World War II. I wasn't able to locate any information about his World War II service, but based on his having a "regular Army" service number, he either volunteered for service initially or stayed in the peacetime Army after the war.

As 1951 was winding down, the Army's 1st Cavalry Division was completing more than 500 consecutive days of combat service in the Korean War and was about to rotate out. Wentzel was a platoon sergeant with Company F (2nd Battalion/Squadron) of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. On November 21, 1951, Sergeant First Class Wentzel's unit was manning an outpost when they came under attack by a much larger enemy force. Under the Minnesotan's leadership and indefatigable courage, the position was held. Wentzel didn't survive the battle, but his heroism lives on in the citation for the second-highest award he could have received: the Distinguished Service Cross.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Sergeant First Class Dave Wesley Wentzel (ASN: RA-27550994), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Platoon Sergeant with Company F, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division. Sergeant First Class Wentzel distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Sokkogae, Korea, on the night of 21 November 1951. On that date, Sergeant Wentzel was occupying an outpost position with his men when it was suddenly subjected to a fierce attack by approximately two battalions of the enemy. Without hesitation, he left his own position and made an immediate circuit of the entire defense perimeter, passing through intense enemy artillery, mortar, automatic-weapons, and small-arms fire to instruct his men. When the first wave of the assaulting enemy neared the outpost, Sergeant Wentzel moved along the top of the defensive positions, completely exposed to the hostile fire. His calmness under fire and his shouted words of encouragement gave the friendly troops the necessary courage to repel the assault. With the first attack repulsed, Sergeant Wentzel reorganized his men in anticipation for the next hostile assault and, although he was painfully wounded, he moved to other sections of the perimeter to coordinate the defense. Despite the fact that he was seriously weakened by his wound, Sergeant Wentzel, realizing that all available firepower was needed, refused to be evacuated and insisted on maintaining his own position. When the final enemy attack was launched, Sergeant Wentzel fearlessly leaped from his emplacement and killed six of the enemy with his carbine who were attempting to blast through the friendly barbed-wire entanglements with explosives. As he made his way back to his position, a hostile grenade exploded at his feet and killed him.

Three weeks before, SFC Wentzel was stalwartly courageous during another enemy assault, resulting in his receipt of the third-highest decoration for valor, the Silver Star (also from Military Times):

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Sergeant First Class Dave Wesley Wentzel (ASN: RA-27550994), United States Army, for gallantry in action against an armed enemy while serving with Company F, 8th Cavalry Regiment (Infantry), 1st Cavalry Division, on 31 October 1951, near Pokkae, Korea. When the first wave of enemy troops attacked one section of a defensive perimeter, Sergeant Wentzel, although not stationed at this point of the line, saw the need for additional firepower and immediately moved to the stricken area. He skillfully delivered a large volume of fire on the attackers that was instrumental in alleviating the great pressure the enemy was exerting. Disregarding his personal safety, Sergeant Wentzel moved from foxhole to foxhole, amidst the hostile fire, replacing the wounded men and instructing those capable of carrying on the battle. His dauntless courage and leadership inspired the men to greater efforts. Sergeant First Class Wentzel's gallantry reflects great credit upon himself and the military service.

Dave Wesley Wentzel today rests in peace at the Grandview Cemetery in Austin, Minnesota. His grave marker notes neither his Distinguished Service Cross or Silver Star awards. 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry is still part of the present day 1st Cavalry Division. They are a combined arms (tank and mechanized infantry) battalion that is assigned to the division's 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team at Fort Hood, Texas.


  1. Dave Wesley Blake11:02 AM

    This is my uncle and my namesake. He served in WWII and Korea. Even tho I never met him personally I tell you with unwavering conviction that he knew what he needed to do always. He never hesitated to commit himself to a call to service. Even at home.

  2. Dave,

    So honored you found your way here. I'm glad I could do my little part in trying to make sure acts of men like your uncle don't depart from our collective memories.

    All the best to you and your family.



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