“Could’ve been dead:” Well-known veterans advocate, Medal of Honor recipient seriously hurt in crash

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LA CROSSE -- He narrowly survived the Vietnam War, and has been fighting for veterans ever since. Gary Wetzel is now in the hospital, in serious condition. This, after a crash while he was en route to accept a prestigious award.

"Gary's well known across the country," Jeffrey Dentice said.

There are few who have done as much for veterans as Gary Wetzel.

"Just on, and on, and on. The guy never stops," Dentice said.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

The Vietnam veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient is immortalized on a monument outside the Milwaukee County War Memorial, on a street that bears his name.

"It`s now called Gary Wetzel Medal of Honor Way -- that whole street leading into the front of the War Memorial," Dentice said.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

The man who survived an 11-hour battle in Vietnam, in which he was shot, stabbed and lost his arm, was in a hospital in La Crosse Monday, August 8th.

"It`s serious. He`ll do an operation (Tuesday)," Dentice said.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

Dentice, Wetzel's long-time friend, told FOX6 News Wetzel was about 30 miles outside La Crosse on Sunday, August 7th when he laid down his motorcycle at 60 miles-per-hour.

"Something happened with his foot getting on the bike, trying to get on the pedal, and either that broke or his foot got caught and down he went on the highway," Dentice said.

Dentice said Wetzel suffered a broken shoulder and pelvis.

"Serious road rash and just a lot of pain and hurting," Dentice said.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

At the time of the crash, Wetzel was on his way to Sturgis, South Dakota -- where he was to receive the 2016 "Freedom Fighter Award" and be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Wetzel has spent decades advocating for veterans issues and founding veterans organizations.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

He now has a long road ahead as he works to recover from this crash -- but Gary Wetzel is a fighter.

"Could've been dead. He could've been just one of Wisconsin`s Congressional Medal of Honors -- gone," Dentice said.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

Wetzel hasn't just advocated for veterans. He also serves as an advocate for people with disabilities and kids with cancer, among other things.

Gary Wetzel

Gary Wetzel

He is being treated at Gundersen Hospital in La Crosse.

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