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Noted MN Marine vet, wheelchair athlete and disabled rights advocate dies

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A northern Minnesota community is remembering Charles Wittwer, a Vietnam veteran who became a celebrated wheelchair athlete and disabled rights advocate after an auto accident in the 1970s.

Wittwer, who died on Friday, June 5, was born in Fargo and graduated from high school in St. Paul, later settling in Island Lake, Minnesota, according to his bio on the Sunrise Funeral Home website.

A highly decorated Marine Corps machine gunner in the Vietnam War, Wittwer returned home and pursued a career in education, eventually becoming a Special Needs Facilitator at Blue Earth High School.

But in 1979, a collision with a semitrailer changed the course of his life.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, though the accident left Wittwer without the use of his legs, he became a widely recognized wheelchair athlete, and also lobbied for disabled rights as a member of Minnesota Paralyzed Veterans.

His sports activities earned him recognition as a General Mills Gold Medal athlete and landed him on a special edition box of Cheerios in 2007, his bio notes.

The Duluth News Tribune says he died after an illness.

Wittwer was 66.

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