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William “Doc” Charette

Last Submariner Medal of Honor Recipient



LAKE WALES - William “Doc” Charette, 79, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on Sunday, March 18, 2012 due to complications of surgery.

He was born and raised in Ludington, Michigan. Master Chief Charette served at the Naval Hospital in Charleston; SC; Fleet Marine Force, 1st Marine Division, Korea; USS Quillback (SS424); USS Triton (SSN586), Fleet Ballistic Missile Training Center, Charleston, SC; USS Daniel Webster (SSBN626); Naval Hospital, Orlando, FL; USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN646); and at the Recruit Dispensary, Orlando, FL. He retired from the Navy on April 1, 1977.

While serving as a Navy Corpsman with the Marines in Korea in March of 1953, he was nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 12, 1954. (Citation below)

In May of 1958, while on board the USS Canberra (CAG2), he made the final selection on the World War II Unknown Soldier, now buried in Arlington National Cemetery. On April 30, 1999, the Charette Health Care Center in Portsmouth, VA was dedicated in his honor. It is recognized as the flagship hospital for the East Coast. He is a member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Korean War Veterans Association, William R. Charette Chapter 158, Elks Lodge 1974, V.F.W. Lodge in Lake Wales, FL, USS Sea Peachers Association, Fleet Reserve Association in Charleston, SC, Florida Chief Petty Officer Association and many other charitable organizations.

He is preceded in death by his son, William “Billy” Charette. Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Louise Fraiser Charette; children, Margaret A. Henderson, Kathryn M. Donovan, Laura L. Bennett and Michael R. Charette; beloved sister, Margaret "Peggy" Ezdebski; brothers-in-law, Bill and Stewart Fraiser; and five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Graveside services were held Thursday, March 22, 2012 at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. For those who wish, donations may be made to The Medal of Honor Museum at Patriots Point (Post Office Box 309, Mount Pleasant, SC 19465). Condolences may be sent to the family at


William R. Charette

Rank and Organization: Hospital Corpsman Third Class, U.S. Navy Medical Corpsman serving with a Marine rifle company

Place and Date: Korea, 27 March 1953 Entered service at: Ludington, Michigan

Birth: Ludington, Michigan


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against enemy aggressor forces during the early morning hours. Participating in a fierce encounter with a cleverly concealed and well-entrenched enemy force occupying positions on a vital and bitterly contested outpost far in advance of the main line of resistance, HC3c. Charette repeatedly and unhesitatingly moved about through a murderous barrage of hostile small-arms and mortar fire to render assistance to his wounded comrades. When an enemy grenade landed within a few feet of a marine he was attending, he immediately threw himself upon the stricken man and absorbed the entire concussion of the deadly missile with his body. Although sustaining painful facial wounds, and undergoing shock from the intensity of the blast which ripped the helmet and medical aid kit from his person, HC3c. Charette resourcefully improvised emergency bandages by tearing off part of his clothing, and gallantly continued to administer medical aid to the wounded in his own unit and to those in adjacent platoon areas as well. Observing a seriously wounded comrade whose armored vest had been torn from his body by the blast from an exploding shell, he selflessly removed his own battle vest and placed it upon the helpless man although fully aware of the added jeopardy to himself. Moving to the side of another casualty who was suffering excruciating pain from a serious leg wound, HC3c. Charette stood upright in the trench line and exposed himself to a deadly hail of enemy fire in order to lend more effective aid to the victim and to alleviate his anguish while being removed to a position of safety. By his indomitable courage and inspiring efforts in behalf of his wounded comrades, HC3c. Charette was directly responsible for saving many lives. His great personal valor reflects the highest credit upon himself and enhances the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.