Milwaukee native Gary George Wetzel was awarded the Medal of Honor on November 19, 1968, by President Lyndon Johnson for his actions in the Vietnam War. In 2015 the War Memorial Center unveiled a street sign and stone marker Memorial commemorating his heroics during the Vietnam War. The section of Mason Street that crosses over Lincoln Memorial Drive was renamed the Gary G. Wetzel Medal of Honor Way.
U.S. Army Private First Class Wetzel was a door gunner for the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company when his helicopter was shot down in Vietnam on January 8, 1968. During the ensuing fight, Wetzel’s left arm was badly damaged and he received serious injuries to his right arm, chest and left leg. Despite the life-threatening injuries, Wetzel continued fighting and helped hold off the enemy until his men could be rescued. His heroic actions were credited with saving numerous lives.
Wetzel currently lives in South Milwaukee. He was named the 2015 Milwaukee County Veteran of the Year and was the first recipient of the Milwaukee County Purple Heart Pass. Wetzel is a frequent visitor and honored guest of the War Memorial Center.