Though one would never know it from “Doubt” or the Fortean Society.
George Townsend Wetzel was born 1 June 1921 in Maryland. His name seems unusual, but there were a number of Wetzels, including other George Wetzels, throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the upper Midwest. It’s a German name. His mother was the former Eva Mae Carrick. His father, Otto, was an accountant; he had served in the navy during the Boxer Rebellion. Both were born in the late 1880s; both were Marylanders, from families of Marylanders. George was the third of six children; he had an older brother and sister, and three younger brothers. In 1930, they rented a house for $37.50 in Baltimore. They did not have a radio set.
The family weathered the Depression well. They moved during the 1930s, into a home that they owned. According to the 1940 census, Otto was working full time in 1939, making about $3,500 per year. George was the eldest of the four boys still at home; I am not sure if he finished high school—the census credits him with one year, his enlistment papers with three. He subsequently seems to have done “semiskilled” machine work for a a couple of years at most. (The 1942 Hagerstown City Directory has a George Wetzel listed, working as a “greaser.”) On 6 June 1942, a few days after he turned 21, Wetzel enlisted in the army. From what I can tell, he served in the army air force, though I am not sure what he did beyond that. Wetzel was five-foot-nine and a slight 137 pounds.