“Renunciation:” The Story of Charles Liteky

By: Madison White, Wichita State University

In an act of political dissent, Charles James Liteky placed his Congressional Medal of Honor at the foot of the Vietnam Memorial. He is the only known recipient of such a medal to give it up in an act of disobedience, according to a recent press release.

Charles Liteky’s journey begins in Washington D.C. where he was born in 1931. He was later raised in Florida before deciding to join the Catholic priesthood and changing his name to Angelo J. Liteky. However, soon after this decision, the voice of the Vietnam War called. Mr. Liteky volunteered for service and served as a U.S. Army chaplain in the 199th Infantry Brigade.

In his first combat experience, Charles rescued 23 of his colleagues despite his own shrapnel wounds and improper protective gear. He evacuated the soldiers and administered last rites to many of them. When awarded the Medal of Honor, Charles thought he did not deserve the award any more than the other medics and soldiers involved.

After his service in the military, Mr. Liteky devoted his life to peace. He worked with other courageous men and women to oppose the U.S. military strategies in foreign lands, particularly its involvement in Central American countries. Alongside giving up his Medal of Honor, Mr. Liteky also served two prison terms for civil disobedience and trespassing at the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning.

Charles Liteky’s story can be read in the posthumously published autobiography “Renunciation.” Mr. Liteky never intended to publish a story about his life and wrote primarily to “exorcize some of the demons” that haunted him from his past.

However, with encouragement from his family and friends, he decided to publish the story. The book is now available in paperback and e-book form on It can also be ordered directly from his website

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