Medal of Honor recipient visits Black Knight medics
May 5, 2008
While in Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, more than 40 years ago, then-Specialist Charles Hagemeister went through the fight of his life in Vietnam and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.
Without forgetting his roots, Hagemeister, of Lincoln, Neb. came to Fort Hood to visit fellow medics from the Black Knight Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division May 1.
"I love being here with Soldiers," he said. "There's always been a special place in my heart for the guys in this unit."
Hagemeister's visit wasn't official and didn't requiring a formation or ceremony of any type. He said just coming back and talking about experiences with the medics from 1-5 was invigorating enough.
"To meet someone like him is something special," said Spc. Jeremy Varnell, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-5. "What was most amazing to me was the acts he had to go through in order to get [the medal]," said the Tulsa, Okla native.
Staff Sgt. Jason Rosales, also a medic with HHC, 1-5, said what he found amazing was how such a young Soldier took charge of a platoon, drove on and got the mission accomplished. Hagemeister was then a 20 year old.
"He's a very humble, straight-forward, regular guy," Rosales, of Lockhart, Texas said. "I was really surprised he just came here and was so willing to talk to us."
Hagemeister was drafted into the military during the Vietnam War. He said it was by luck of the draw he became a medic instead of an infantryman.
According to the official citation, while in the Binh Dinh province of Vietnam, Hagemeister's platoon came under attack by the enemy, virtually surrounding his unit. As a medic, his primary function was to render aide to those injured during the fight.
However, after his platoon leader and several other Soldiers were injured, Hagemeister began fighting back. He killed a sniper, several enemy soldiers and destroyed a machinegun position all while still taking fire. He knew he would never be able to treat all his comrades while still taking as much fire as he was so he decided to get reinforcements from a nearby platoon. After finding who he was looking for, Hagemeister took it upon himself to place the reinforcements in vital areas that would give him just enough of a break to treat the rest of the men injured.
Finally, he was able to move all the wounded to a less-hostile location and treat as many as he could.
Hagemeister said as long as he's alive, he'll interact with Soldiers everywhere, but he'll always remember his time with the troops from 1-5.