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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 family.

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.”

Stu’s Notes:
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.