January 25, 2013
From Looking Back August 2, 2002
Taken from the Oroville Mercury Register
March 3, 1945
Lt. Wigle Rated High Among Nation’s Heroes:
His Courageous Acts Related Details Told In Citation: Led
Men Up Bare, Rocky Slopes to Drive Enemy Out.
“For Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty,” the Late Lt.. Thomas W. Wigle,
former Oroville musician, has been awarded posthumously the Congressional
Medal of Honor. By special order of President Roosevelt, the medal
was conferred on Lt. Wigle’s widow, Mrs. Margaret Henry Wigle, Feb.
16, in Detroit, Mich., birthplace of the young hero. Diana, two-year-old
daughter of Lt. and Mrs. Wigle, was with her mother in the federal
courtroom where Maj. G. Russel B. Reynolds made the presentation.
Oroville’s foremost hero of World War II and believed to be the
only local man ever to receive the Congressional award, Lt. Wigle
was fatally wounded while leading a successful attack on an enemy
position that had impeded his unit’s progress on the Gothic line
at Monte Frassino in Italy.
Details of the heroic acts, for which the nation’s highest military
honor was awarded Lt. Wigle, were published in a Detroit paper that
was received here by friends (Dr. and Mrs. C. B. Griggs, close friends
of the young musician while he lived here) of Lt. Wigle and his
The story of the 35 year old infantry lieutenant’s high courage
and gallantry was told in the following citation:
” For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life
above and beyond the call of duty in the vicinity of Monte Frassino,
Italy, on 14, September 1944, the 3rd Platoon in attempting to seize
a strongly fortified hill position, protected by three parallel
high terraced stone walls, was twice thrown back by the withering
cross fire of machine guns and intense barrages of mortar and artillery
fire. “Lt. Wigle, acting company executive, observing that, the
Platoon was without an officer, volunteered to command it in the
next attack. Leading his men up the bare rocky slopes through intense
and concentrated fire, he succeeded in reaching the first of the
stone walls. Having himself boosted to the top and perching there
in full view of the enemy, he drew and returned their fire while
his men helped each other up and over. Following the same method
he successfully negotiated the second. Upon reaching the top of
the third wall he faced three houses, which were the key point of
the enemy’s defense. Ordering his men to cover him, he made a dash
through a hail of machine pistol fire to reach the nearest house.
Firing his carbine as he entered, he drove the enemy before him
out of the back door and into the second house. Following closely
on the heels of the foe, he drove them from this house into the
third where they took refuge in the cellar. When his men found him
they found him mortally wounded on the cellar stairs which he had
started to descend to force the surrender of the enemy. (He died
two days later) “His heroic action resulted in the capture of 36
German soldiers and the seizure of the strongpoint.”
Lt. Wigle was the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. Palmer Wigle of Detroit.
He began his study of music at the age of 10. He became a violin
virtuoso playing for five years with the Kansas Symphony under Karl
Krueger, now conductor of the Detroit Symphony. He and Krueger were
close friends. The noted conductor is in possession of one of several
symphonies composed by Lt. Wigle, it is called “Western Saga.”
Above and Beyond, the more research I do the more I find how
bravely the Oroville men served their country. The Medal of Honor
is the highest honor in battle a person can receive. It is given
out very sparingly. It is sad, growing up in Oroville, I had no
knowledge of what this Oroville man had done. True he was not born
here, but for a while he called Oroville home. We must never forget
him. How did Oroville forget this man over the years? I moved here
in 1946 and never heard his name until I read a old Mercury in 2002.
Lt. Thomas W. Wigle lived in Oroville from 1937 until 1941. His
studio was on 2nd Ave across from Rotary Park. I wish we could find
his Daughter, Diana, about 70 years old now. I’ve searched for girls
before, they are hard to find as they change their names. I’ve been
told that Dr. Griggs brought the famous violinist to Oroville to
teach the kids the violin. He taught music and made many friends
that are now gone, although Jim Lenhoff has found one in San Francisco.
Also Gene Harris took violin lessons from him. I did this article
over ten years ago so many of my readers never heard of this hero.
Since then we’ve found another Medal of Honor recipient who was
born in Oroville and went to school in Chico, Robert Harley Young
who died in Korea. To me it seems strange to have done this column
so long ago that I can do Looking Back Ten Years ago and run my
own stories again. But I don’t intend to do much of that. Easy for
me but Lynn still has to type them again.