I just finished watching and enjoying a 2001 movie “The Lost Battalion” and was about to carry on with my life as usual. But the last scene kept ringing in my head where the Battalion commander (Charles White Whittlesey 1884-1921) expressed his anger to his superiors for not sending the promised support in time which resulted in loss of more than 50 percent of his battalion.
What particularly got my attention was his refusal to salute his superior out of anger and frustration while his superior officer recognized that and saluted him as Whittlesey walked away towards the remaining of his battalion’s men, refusing his superior’s offer to ride with him in his jeep.
Out of curiosity, I wanted to know more about Charles Whittlesey and was shocked to hear that America’s first recipient of Congressional Medal of Honor committed suicide at the age of 37. And what astounded me was his depression caused by not only watching hundreds of his men helplessly dying in his own hands and under his own command but also his praise and the nationwide recognition of his services.
Here’s an excerpt from a book “Solo Soldiers’ Stories” by Kathy Warnes on the topic of Charles Whittlesey’s life;