According to the article in The Scranton Times-Tribune, Wenzel was a second lieutenant in the Army during the Vietnam War. A landmine claimed both his legs, and Mr. Wenzel suffered other serious injuries.
He received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, South Vietnam Medal and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
He would go on to serve as Mayor of Scranton from 1986-1990, and has remained an active part of the Scranton community in the last 25 years.
Read more about Wenzel and why he considered the B'nai B'rith Americanism Award to be among the highest honors:
Mr. Wenzel enthusiastically said yes; he was very excited when he found out he won the award in January.
Familiar with the award, he said when he was mayor he presented it a few times and always posed for a photo presenting each with a proclamation.
“I felt there was a responsibility I had toward the nation, and then when I came back there was a responsibility for all the people who did so many nice things for me in the city and also the state,” he said.
Currently a teacher at the Schemel Forum at the University of Scranton, Mr. Wenzel said it’s like continuing education, noting he just co-hosted a six-session series on World War I.
Past Americanism Award recipients, committee and community members dined on hors d’ oeuvres in the lobby of the JCC before taking their seats at round tables decorated with blue napkins. The head table added the red and white flowers for the patriotic theme.
“We only pick the best of the best,” said Richard Bishop, co-chairman of the dinner, who is a past recipient and has been involved in the lodge for 40 years, on Mr. Wenzel’s selection.