The Charles Wanzel Scholarship

Captain Charles J. Wanzel Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Captain Charles J. Wanzel Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 2019 following the Class of 1969’s Fiftieth Reunion. Its purpose is twofold: to provide financial assistance to a worthy and deserving veteran or veteran’s dependent, and to keep the memory of Charles “Chuck” Wanzel’s accomplishments and sacrifice alive among both his classmates and the Saint Michael’s College community.

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Scholarship Recipient 2023

Ian Carillo ’26

Major: Biology
Hometown: Portsmouth, RI
Military Affiliation: Ian is the son of two 20+ year Navy veterans

Campus Involvements:

During the spring semester I joined the rugby team. The entire team immediately welcomed me which really helped me feel a part of the St. Mike’s Community.

What is your favorite thing about Saint Michael’s?

My favorite part is my professors. Being a STEM major can be difficult at times but my professors help guide me through the troubling sections.

What are your career plans after you graduate?

After graduation, I hope to become a veterinarian. This means more schooling and hopefully internships which can help me gain experience.

Thank you:

Thank you so much for allowing me to continue my education at an amazing institution. The friends, colleagues, and others I have met and worked with here are truly life-long relationships that I will forever cherish. I will always be able to call St. Mike’s my home and you have made this possible for me.

About Charles Wanzel

As written by Captain Wanzel’s classmate, Bayard Tracy ’69:

Chuck Wanzel was the only member of the Class of 1969 to die in combat in the Vietnam War, and his death was unknown to many of us for far too long.

He came to Saint Michael’s in the fall of 1965 from Bayside, Long Island. He was a biology major. According to Mike Buszuwski ‘69, his roommate, Chuck was studious and quiet and was “concerned with the needs of others.” His goal was to attend Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine, but financial considerations forced a different choice. After graduation and sparked by a strong sense of duty, he joined the U.S. Air Force to fly.

Less than three years later on March 29, 1972, 1st Lt. Chuck Wanzel was the copilot of an AC-130 Hercules ‘Spectre’ gunship with a crew of 14, flying a secret, armed reconnaissance mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in southern Laos. According to reports, his plane was hit by one, possibly two Russian surface-to-air missiles. An F4 pilot, flying in support, stated that the C-130 crashed with no signs of survivors. Rescue efforts, hampered by heavy enemy activity and jungle terrain, were called off after only a few days.

Crew members were designated as MIA and would remain so for the next 7 years. On May 25, 1979, Chuck  Wanzel’s status was changed to KIA whereupon he joined ranks with the other 58,219 American service members killed in the Vietnam War.

In February 1986, teams from the U.S. and Laos excavated the crash site and found limited remains, personal effects and pieces of plane wreckage. In October 1986, the U.S. government announced that the remains of Captain Wanzel and those of seven other crew members had been positively identified and were returned to their families. Follow-on surveys and excavations in 2005 and 2006 found more remains. On June 17, 2010, the unidentified remains of the 14-man crew were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery 38 years after their aircraft was shot down. Captain Charles Wanzel’s name is listed on the headstone along with his other crew members.

Chuck was lost in the late days of the war. He was MIA for the majority of the ’70s while the nation grappled with the aftermath of the Vietnam experience. By the time his status was changed to KIA, it was almost the ’80s. America was moving on, putting Vietnam behind with a new president and outlook. Except for those suffering, the country’s Vietnam involvement receded into the past.

From the Class of 1969’s perspective, this was also the case with Chuck Wanzel. We didn’t know of and/or forgot him and his sacrifice. This scholarship is an effort to keep his memory and story alive. As you plan your charitable giving for 2023 (remember, we have to take our required minimum distribution this year), please consider contributing to the Captain Charles Wanzel Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Donating to the Scholarship will honor Chuck Wanzel’s memory, keep his sacrifice alive and help a deserving student meet his or her goals.


Scholarship Term and Financials

Through the Captain Charles J. Wanzel Memorial Scholarship, one student per year receives a scholarship award of approximately $7,500. The impact to the students and their families is immense, and continues to benefit the recipients as they graduate, join the workforce, and start families of their own. This term scholarship will continue to be awarded for as many years as funding remains available.

Learn More about Past Scholarship Recipients