SULPHUR SPRINGS -- On May 28, a wreath was laid on the grave of Sgt. M. Waldo Hatler in the Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Sulphur Springs. Photos of the ceremony appeared in the June 20 issue of the Westside Eagle Observer but nothing was said in the paper about what Hatler did in WWI to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. What follows is a summary.
Hatler (Jan. 6, 1894 - Aug. 31, 1967) was a sergeant in the United States Army during World War I and received the Medal of Honor for heroism near Pouilly, France, on Nov. 8, 1918. Only 119 Medals of Honor were issued for service in WWI, and Sgt. Hatler's grave is the only grave of a WWI veteran who earned the award in Benton County.
War Department, General Orders No. 74 (June 7, 1919)
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant M. Waldo Hatler (ASN: 2199881), United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 8 November 1918, while serving with Company B, 356th Infantry, 89th Division, in action at Pouilly, France. When volunteers were called for to secure information as to the enemy’s position on the opposite bank of the Meuse River, Sergeant Hatler was the first to offer his services for this dangerous mission. Swimming across the river, he succeeded in reaching the German lines, after another soldier, who had started with him, had been seized with cramps and drowned in midstream. Alone he carefully and courageously reconnoitered the enemy’s positions, which were held in force, and again successfully swam the river, bringing back information of great value.
According to the citation, Sgt. Hatler was serving with Company B, 356th Infantry, 89th Division, in action at Pouilly, France. When volunteers were requested to secure information regarding the enemy's position on the opposite bank of the Meuse River, Sgt. Hatler was the first to offer his services for this dangerous mission. Swimming across the river, he succeeded in reaching the German lines. Another soldier, who had started with Hatler, succumbed to cramps and drowned midstream. Continuing alone, Hatler carefully and courageously learned the enemy's positions, still held in force, and successfully swam back across the river to bring back information which saved many lives in the crossing.
Hatler was born Jan. 6, 1894, at Bolivar, Mo., the older of two sons born to Troy and Rose Hatler. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1914 but never practiced law. He, instead, joined his father in banking and real estate in Neosho, Mo. When the United States entered World War I, he attempted to enter the Navy but was turned down for medical reasons. He later waived exemption to the draft and was inducted into the Army and assigned to Company B, 356th Infantry. It was just days before the armistice when his regiment was halted by the enemy in its advance toward Germany at the Meuse River near the French village of Pouilly and information was needed regarding the enemy's location and strength.
According to a 2016 article in the Joplin Globe, Hatler was also awarded the Croce DiGuerra, an Italian cross of military valor, and was later an honorary pallbearer for the unknown soldiers of WWII and the Korean War.
Hatler died in Neosho in 1967 and was buried at Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery in Sulphur Springs.
General News on 09/05/2018
Print Headline: Sgt. Hatler earns medal of honor for reconnaissance mission