Wisconsin Veterans Museum Research Center Transcript of a Television Program,

Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Research Center
Transcript of a Television Program,
“Honor and Remembrance, the Military Heritage of the Chippewa Valley”
Produced by Royal Credit Union (Eau Claire, Wis.)
Distributed by Public Access Community Television (Eau Claire, Wis.)
Producer/Writer: Harold “Diz” J. Kronenberg
OH 1108
Honor and Remembrance, the Military Heritage of the Chippewa Valley, 1996.
Video Recording: 1 videorecording (ca. 60 min.); ½ inch, color.
Transcript: 0.1 linear ft. (1 folder).
Military Papers: 0.1 linear ft. (1 folder).
The program illustrates the military history of the Chippewa Valley in Wisconsin through
accounts about area veterans and personal narratives. Levi Pettis, an early Pettisville
resident, is discussed for his service in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. The
Civil War segment touches on Balthasar Regli, one of the last Civil War veterans to die,
and Old Abe, the eagle mascot of Wisconsin’s 8th Infantry. After a brief history of the
two Wisconsin Regiments to serve in the Spanish-American War, the actions of the 32nd
“Red Arrow” Division during World War I are portrayed. During discussion of area
veterans in World War II, personal accounts are given by Cliff Omtvedt and John Hryn,
Japanese prisoners of war and survivors of the Bataan Death March. Other veterans’
stories told include Harold “Diz” Kronenberg, Bob “Hooker” Kolstad, Charles Mower,
and Chris Hansman. B. H. “Bud” Young talks about his liberation from Stalag 7A, a
German prisoner of war camp. George Shaker, a Korean War veteran, narrates
witnessing the actions of the Gloucestershire Battalion from Britain, and Norman
Henning relates his experiences in an artillery unit. After a report on the 32nd Infantry
Division in the Berlin Crisis, the community’s response to the Vietnam War is described.
Personal narratives are related by Jim Amodt, Norm Hatch, J. Alan Jenkins, and Dan
Doughty, who was a prisoner of war for seven years. Desert Storm is illustrated with
personal narratives by Sue Mousel, Barb Quick, Bill Fleury, Paul Piskoty, and Chuck
Narrator – Peter Murphy
Voices – Stephen Caflisch, Jeff Day, John Murphy, Jim Paulson, Jeff Stevens
Producer – Diz Kronenberg
Transcription by Joseph Dillenburg, WVM, 2007
Checked and corrected by Channing Welch, WVM, 2012
Corrections typed in by Lauren Kelly, WVM, 2012
Abstract written by Susan Krueger, WVM, 2012
Program Transcript:
[Beginning of Part 1]
Honor and Remembrance: The Military Heritage of the Chippewa
Valley. Thousands of men and women from the Chippewa Valley
have served our country in the military, at home and abroad. The
accounts in this presentation are just a sampling of experiences
from a handful of these people. Yes, we realize these chronicles
may be somewhat partisan, but they are personal accounts of how
some of our people served and how they survived the wars.
Revolutionary War
The fact is we can trace our local military history as far back as the
Revolutionary War. Mr. Levi Pettis, A grizzled old veteran of the
revolution and the War of 1812 is buried in the Augusta Cemetery.
Clifford Chatterson: Levi and his family moved to the area known as Pettisville, which
is now about three miles west of Fairchild on the way to Augusta.
of Pettis]
A little bit of the story about Levi was that he lived, as the records
show, to 111 years and eight months. And I guess maybe it says
eleven days on the tombstone, but in any event the story that a lot
of people tell is about him catching his hands in a bear trap. Well,
as my mother said, when he was well over a hundred he was out
trapping, as they made a lot of their living from hunting and
trapping. And he was setting bear traps for a—trying to catch a
bear and got his hands caught instead in the bear traps, or bear trap,
and had to walk home with that on his hands. It’s impossible to
document the fact that he was in the Revolutionary War, but the
story that always came with the facts as they were told in the
family history, just verbally, was that he was a drummer boy or a
water boy. There’s two versions of that, when he was ten or
twelve years old in the Revolutionary War. My wife has tried to
find the documentation for that, and has been unable to, but it’s
likely that that’s what did happen because of where he came from.
And then he was in the War of 1812.
Civil War Narrator:
When the War Between the States broke out, there were 7,782
people in Eau Claire, Chippewa and Dunn Counties. Of these
1,900 were over the age of eighteen. One third of these adults
went off to fight for the Union. 421 fought in units from the
Chippewa Valley, while 152 others served elsewhere. Those were
the men on whom legends are built. Captain Wheeler served with
the Eau Claire Badgers, the first unit recruited from the area.
Captain Art Sherman served with the Eau Claire Rangers, and after
the war became our city’s first sheriff, chief of police, and fire
chief. Balthasar Regli, one of the last Civil War veterans to die,
was proud of having seen Abe Lincoln during his travels as a
Union soldier. Mabel and Esther Regli are great-nieces to
Balthasar. Esther Regli tells us about him.
Well, I was told that he was the third oldest civil war veteran to
die, and of course he was the oldest veteran, Civil War veteran to
die in Wisconsin. Well, as a child I think that we held him in awe
really, and looked up to him because here he was, a war veteran
and had come home from the Civil War, and it was quite an honor
to have our uncle as a war veteran.
Perhaps the status of the most celebrated recruit from the
Chippewa Valley is reserved not for a person, but for Old Abe, the
Union war eagle, called by his own troops, “The Monarch of the
Skies.” The Confederates on the other hand referred to him as
“Old Crow,” “The Wild Goose,” or “The Turkey Buzzard,” names
not very appropriate for a symbol of freedom and the mascot of
Wisconsin’s 8th Infantry. Old Abe was definitely the enlisted
men’s friend. One story tells of how Old Abe came to peck
General Ulysses S. Grant on the nose. One of the enlisted men
said, “Old Abe just didn’t cotton to generals.” Dan McCann, a
farmer from Jim Falls talked Captain Perkins of the Eau Claire
Badgers Regiment into taking Old Abe as their mascot. The men
were delighted and had the name changed from the Eau Claire
Badgers to the Eau Claire Eagles. Juanita Cutsforth, McCann’s
granddaughter tells how Old Abe came to be in the Wisconsin
Chief Sky of the Lac Du Flambeau Band came down the river to
my parent’s farm at Jim Falls. And he had a eagle, two eaglets and
he wanted to trade maple sugar for a bushel of corn. But my
grandmother didn’t want the sugar, so she traded the corn, and she
took the eagle. And they raised the eagle for about a year, and he
started to claw the children, and my aunt Lade (??) had scars on
her arms from the eagle, and I remember her when I was a young
girl. So my grandmother said the eagle had to go, and my
grandfather took it to Chippewa to the, ah—they were just
organizing to go to the war. But they didn’t want it so he took—
went on to Eau Claire to the 8th Regiment, which was being
organized there, and they didn’t want it. And he asked them to get
a fiddle and if—he would show what the eagle could do. So they
got him a fiddle, and he played “Bonaparte's Retreat,” and the
eagle hopped around and screeched and done quite a performance,
and so they said they would take the eagle as their mascot. And
they did, and they named him Old Abe after Abraham Lincoln.
Conditions in many military hospitals during the Civil War were
downright unsanitary and unfit for humans. The following letter,
written by a civil war soldier to his home in Dunn County
describes those unsanitary conditions at their worst. The letter was
placed in a newspaper of the time, and entitled “Surgeon Rat.”
Voice 1:
At one of our large hospitals, an operation was successfully
performed upon an invalid soldier by a common rat. The surgeon
in charge had delayed the operation for a time with the hope of
causing less suffering to the patient. This patient was suffering
from the effects of a fracture of the frontal bone of the skull. A
piece of the bone was projected outwards to some length, and the
healing of the fleshy parts depended upon its removal. The patient
was soon asleep in his bed but during the night was aroused by the
sting of pain. He awoke to discover a rat making off with a piece
of the skull bone in his mouth. The rat had probably been drawn to
the bed by the scent of the healing poultice which was pleasant to
his olfactories. It was a skillful operation, quickly performed, and
will result beneficially to the invalid. Such is the life of the
One soldier, Sergeant Horace Ellis, twenty-four, of Chippewa Falls
received the nation’s highest award, the Congressional Medal of
Honor, for his actions at Weldon [Reams] Station [Virginia]. This
medal is given only for example of conspicuous bravery. We must
remember that Wisconsin’s severest tests of loyalty to the Union
came only thirteen years after she joined the Union. About 12,000
Wisconsin soldiers died in that war, and thousands more were
wounded. Eau Claire County alone lost seventy-seven men.
War Narrator:
Only two Wisconsin Regiments went off to fight in the SpanishAmerican War. The Chippewa Valley men fought in the 3rd
Regiment under General Miles and left for Puerto Rico in August
of 1898. It was a brief and unequal war, so they were able to
return in October. One veteran, Louis P. Larson of Company E, 3rd
Wisconsin Regiment, was one of the men who returned home.
Five men from Eau Claire County did not return. Major Hugh J.
McGrath of Eau Claire single handedly captured two canoes which
he later used to transport his men across a river, enabling them to
capture an enemy position. Soon after, Major McGrath received a
fatal wound while leading ahead on charge on the town of
Noveleta in the Philippines. He was shot and killed on November
7th, 1899 and for his actions received the Congressional Medal of
World War I
[Music “Over There”]
In World War I, Wisconsin made a reputation for the Badger as a
fighter with the now famous 32nd Red Arrow Division. In the Civil
War, when fighting under General McClellan at the Battle of
Antietam, the worst single day of fighting in American history, the
commanding general commented that the men behaved as if they
were made of iron. The battle earned them the title of “The Iron
Brigade,” a title which marked them as being something special in
the eyes of the entire nation. This “Iron Brigade,” which
eventually became the 32nd Red Arrow Division, was to become a
living legend among veterans in the wars to follow. In January of
1918 the 32nd Red Arrow Division sailed for France. It didn’t take
them long to get into the trenches and fight the Huns of Germany.
In the First Battle of the Marne 777 lost their lives, and 3,000 were
wounded. It was after this engagement that a French general gave
them the name “Les Terribles” which means “the Terrible Ones.”
They went over the top at Soissons [France] and fought for five
days of hell. The pierced the enemy lines so sharply that a red
arrow became their symbol instead of the previous circle. Several
soldiers were cited for acts of heroism. Oscar “Si” Slagsvol served
in the 128th Infantry with the 32nd Red Arrow Division in France as
a second lieutenant. He won the Distinguished Service Cross, the
nation’s second-highest military award, two Purple Hearts, and two
French Croix de Guerre. After the war, he returned to Eau Claire
where he operated the Slagsvol Insurance Agency. Eau Claire
resident and postman Sergeant Frank Glomski received the
Distinguished Service Cross and the French Croix de Guerre for
his action near Soissons, France. He led his men from shell-hole to
shell-hole, across no-man’s land under heavy enemy fire. After the
war Hobart Kronenberg, First Lieutenant Engineers, was given
orders to go to Paris and build a house for General “Black Jack”
Pershing who planned to visit the city for a series of negotiations
with the French.
Voice 2:
[Reading a statement] I remember the men were terribly
disappointed when they found out that previous arrangements had
been made for Pershing to stay in a Paris hotel. We simply tore the
house down and went back to building gunnery ranges. I suspect
that if we had a Senator Proxmire at the time we would have
received the Golden Fleece Award.
Arthur Marcus Olson was the only faculty member from the local
college, or Normal School as it was called then, to die in World
War I. He was killed on July 18th, 1918. Sergeant Royce C. Holtz
of Chippewa Falls went overseas with the 32nd Red Arrow
Division and had the unique distinction of being the first Yank to
invade Germany after the Armistice was signed.
Voice 3:
[Reading a statement] I saw Sergeant Holtz leaving the Allied lines
on the Belgian border on his motorcycle. He was heading towards
Spa, the great German headquarters. He was soon behind the
retreating German lines and was picked up and actually arrested by
the Germans. But that daring American sergeant persuaded the
Germans into giving him a pass into Germany. Sergeant Holtz was
stopped many times and detained. But because he was so
ingenious and spoke German fluently, he always seemed to talk his
way into freedom.
Private Clayton Slack of Chetek received the Congressional Medal
of Honor, as well as thirteen other medals for his actions in World
War I. Private Slack’s act of heroism came near Verdun, France
about one month before the war ended. In awarding the medal to
Slack, Pershing told him, “You’ve done more to win this war than
I have.” [Music “Over There”] As in any war there are families
who never see their loved ones again. Of the over 2,000 Eau
Claire County residents who fought in World War I, 171 of them
did not return home alive.
World War II
[Music “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition”]
After the United States entered the war men and women from the
Chippewa Valley headed for the recruitment offices. In 1942 Eau
Claire Senior High School had two members of the faculty and
fifteen members of the senior class who answered the call to
colors. If you were in your senior year and joined the service you
automatically were given your graduation diploma. It was not
uncommon to come to school one day with all your classmates and
in the days to come notice more and more empty chairs belonging
to friends who had enlisted. It had a very emotional impact on the
students left behind because they knew some of those who had
enlisted would never return.
A sergeant in the Army in World War II, Richard G. O’Brien went
on to manage the Bankers Life Company in Eau Claire. The
Richard G. O’Brien Hockey Rink in the Hobbs Arena was later
named in his honor because of his dedication to the youth hockey
programs in the area.
Don Fleming, one of the Eau Claire Flying Eagles Ski Club’s top
skiers with a promising future, entered the Navy as a seventeen
year old. In a few short months he lost his life in the South Pacific.
Four men from Eau Claire survived four years of torture, beatings
and misery. They fought only briefly after the Japanese attack on
Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. The four men, John Hryn,
John Bruer, Cliff Omtvedt, and Ervin Keilholz were taken prisoner
by the Japanese when Bataan in the Philippines fell to the enemy.
They survived the infamous Death March and four years of
hardship as prisoners of war.
Cliff Omtvedt:
I was carrying a bedspring with a rope tied on one end of it and
another man on the other end with a litter patient. And we walked
the Death March highway. I don’t know how many miles we
made, but I judge it was anyplace between twenty-five and fifty
miles, it could have been any amount of those miles. I don’t know
how far we went beyond a certain point ‘cause I was falling down
on my face almost as much as I was walking and carrying this
thing. And as a result, I finally—we fell on the ground there, and a
Japanese came along with a truck, and because of this man being
on the litter, they told us to put the litter on the back end of this
truck, and then the Jap guard says “Get on and hold it there.” And
that’s the only way I happened to ride the rest of the way to San
Fernando on a truck. And I had seen on the Death March highway
I saw men, women and children that was run over, uniformed
people as well as civilians.
John Hryn:
We marched for I don’t know how many days and then finally got
to Camp O’Donnell which was the first camp. And that was a
camp which everybody just was real—I caught dysentery, no
sanitation, no—there wasn’t any food or any—no medical
attention, nothing to take care of any illnesses. So, and they started
dying right away. So it was close to 2,000 that died there at, from
malnutrition and malaria. In fact I took part in burying I don’
know how many. It was two, another kid and I, two bamboo poles,
we just drape ‘em over the poles and carry them out to a big hole,
about the size of this room and just threw ‘em in this one big hole,
without identification or anything. There was no decent burial
for—at that time.
Toward the end of the war, after the atomic bombs were dropped,
the Japanese attitude toward prisoners changed drastically.
American planes flew over and dropped supplies to the starved
prisoners. Red, white and blue parachutes were used in dropping
these supplies. Hryn and Omtvedt were among a group of
prisoners who used these chutes to make an American flag. This
flag was flown over the [Mukaishima] prison camp and was the
first American flag to be flown over Japan since the war had
started. This flag has been in the Smithsonian Institute but will
now be moved to Andersonville, Georgia which is now
headquarters for all POW materials.
We raised that flag on the 18th of, of August 1945, and John was in
the audience, and I was chosen along with two other men, on
named Martin Bussell, another Charles Branum, to be the colors
bearers, and I actually hoisted the flag on the rope to the loft, to the
top of the pole, and “To the Colors” was blown by a fella named
Potay (??). And when the flag reached the top of the pole
everyone was at a hand salute, and we, as I turned around to salute
the flag and dropped my hand from the salute, I looked at the
group of men that stood there, and there were tears running down
their face. It was a real touching moment in our lives.
Eugene Moran of Gays Mills was a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying
Fortress when it exploded somewhere over Germany. His gunnery
school roommate, “Diz” Kronenberg, relates this extraordinary
He was a tail gunner in a B-17. His airplane had received a direct
burst of flak. The plane exploded. Gene was in the tail of the
plane, falling, and he described it as somewhat of—the plane
falling somewhat like a leaf would fall coming out of the sky and
falling this way. He doesn’t remember exactly what happened
after that, but he woke up lying in a tree and with German civilians
with pitchforks threatening him. And although he was almost
unconscious he knew a little bit what was happening. Some
German soldiers came and rescued him from these civilians. One
Sunday afternoon I heard on the radio, this was now in 1944, the
war was still going on, I heard on the radio that Eugene Moran, the
young sergeant from Gays Mills, Wisconsin was being repatriated,
and he was the first one off the boat in New York City. And this
an exchange of prisoners of war.
Robert W. Burns retired from the service as a Lieutenant General,
that’s three stars on each shoulder, quite an accomplishment.
Captain Bob “Hooker” Kolstad and Tech Sergeant John Egan from
Eau Claire were both part of the 2nd Bomb Group and completed
quite a few missions from North Africa and later Manfredonia,
Voice 4:
On my fifteenth mission we hit the Udine area of northern Italy.
“Hooker” [Capt. Robert Kolstad] was flying lead plane in our
squadron; we were flying off his right wing. Eighteen Germans
fighters jumped us. “Hooker’s” plane was hit, left the formation
and started going down. As we headed for Yugoslavia off in the
distance and the crew began to bail out, we only saw seven chutes.
We assumed “Hooker” went down with the plane. He was on his
forty-ninth mission, his next to last mission. I wrote to his mother
but everything was censored. Several months later I finished my
missions and returned to “God’s Country” for a short furlough. I
had finally gotten up the courage to go and talk with “Hooker’s”
mother. As I drove down South Barstow Street to cross over the
old Grand Avenue Bridge, right in front of the old caramel corn
shop, I saw “Hooker” walking south. I did a double take, double
parked, jumped out of the car and vigorously shook his hand.
Everyone in his crew had bailed out safely. He and few others had
been rescued by Marshal Tito’s Partisans and were forbidden by
the U.S. to tell any more since it was classified information and the
war was still going on. Captain “Hooker” was the highest ranking
officer among the British and Americans while being hidden
among the Partisans. Because of this, he served as Chief Liaison
Officer for Tito and the Americans and served in this capacity until
Captain Rod Sterling [Sterling Hayden; confirmed on Chippewa
Valley WWII website by Harold Kronenberg, producer of and
writer of this program], the movie star, was secretly flown in.
In January 1944, while serving as the company cook, Corporal Eric
Gunnison Gibson of Rice Lake led some recruits against the
attacking Germans, near Isola Bella, Italy. He killed five Germans
and captured two, all of whom were firing at him from a machine
gun nest. By disposing of the Germans he secured the left flank of
his company. Killed soon after while still attacking and firing on
the Germans, he was posthumously award the Congressional
Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.
Staff Sergeant Charles Mower of Chippewa Falls was assistant
squad leader while serving near Capoocan, Leyte in the
Gene Mower:
[Charles Mower’s
The leader of this group was killed the day that he also died, and of
course my brother took over the squad. They were crossing a
stream, and he was gonna lead ‘em across the stream. And he got
part way across the stream, and the enemy opened fire on him.
And so then he was half submerged, apparently, in the water and
shouted back to his troops to stay where they were, that they were
hidden somewhat. He then realized that he was in a good position
to figure out where the enemy was, and so then he started shouting
his commands back to his troops so that they could knock out the
enemy post that was in their way. And it was—he refused to take
any help or any aid, he knew it would endanger anybody that
would come out in the stream to help him. So then he, he gave the
orders to stay where they were, and he directed how they could
destroy the enemy at that point. And I don’t know how long the
battle took place, but then he did save the lives of I guess several
hundred people, and he, in the meantime, the enemy did realize
what was happening, that the guy out in the stream that was half
submerged was the one that was leading the whole force, and so
they directed their enemy fire onto him, and he was killed at that
point. A year or so later the Navy named a ship after him, and we
went out to the dedication of the ship which was in Washington.
And that was quite an honor. And it was a converted hospital ship.
It was converted to a troop transport ship, and it was used up until
probably ten, twelve years ago. And the plaques that came out of
the ship, showing my brother’s picture and how he received the
Medal of Honor, that were taken out of the ship were then
presented to the, three were there of them, one was presented to the
McDonell High School, one to the America Legion, and the third
one is in front of the court house in Chippewa Falls today.
B. H. “Bud” Young, retired Chippewa Falls postmaster, was a
bombardier on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber when he was shot
down over Ploesti, Romania. That was his seventh mission on
August 17th, 1944. He now relates how he was liberated from
POW camp Stalag 7A by General Patton.
We finally got down to Stalag 7A, and as I say, that was the end of
the world down there. That was the filthiest place you could ever
hope to be in. The water supply was one faucet, and that faucet,
there was always a line at least two blocks, three blocks long, guys
standing there with tin cans just waiting to get a drink of water, let
alone try to shave or shower or anything like that. That was
impossible. And we were just starving to death when finally we
were liberated by Patton. Patton came in because, well, one of the
reasons they claimed, his son, who we knew his son was a prisoner
in our camp, or his son-in-law, son-in-law. And he spearheaded in
there, right through German lines and everything [laughs] else and
came right in, and there was a firefight outside the camp, several
people shot out there and so forth, but the Germans finally
surrendered, and we were liberated, and, boy, let me tell you, was
that a happy day. To see that American flag, go up that flag pole,
[Music “Moonlight Serenade”]
At home, the labor force was low even though many farmers and
defense plant workers were exempt from serving in the military.
Because of the shortage during the harvest of the pea crop, 134
German POWs and sixty Jamaicans were brought to Eau Claire to
work in the Lange Canning Factory at the corner of Madison Street
and Oxford Avenue. They were actually housed on the 4-H
grounds on Fairfax in Altoona.
Doug Ward of Mondovi served in Europe as a belly-gunner.
My classmate at Mondovi, Chris Hansman, was a P-51 pilot, and
we graduated from high school together, and we kept
corresponding and that. And he was stationed not too far from me
so he came over to my base one day, flew over with his P-51 and
we had a visit. And then I was supposed to meet him two days
later in London for his twentieth birthday, and I went, got a pass
and went to London. He never showed up. So the next pass I got I
went to his base and found out that he had been killed. He was
strafing an airbase and his wing caught the ground and flipped him
over. He was nineteen years old. He was gonna be twenty then at
the time, and he already was an ace. And I got corresponding with
some of his old group, command, or group, people in his group,
and they informed me that he was supposed to be the youngest ace
of World War I and World War II, but it’s never been really too
highly publicized or anything, but I think that’s quite a feat for a
young guy like that.
Staff Sergeant Allen Mathews of Thorp entered the Army in
October, 1940. He was killed in action in the North African
Campaign on April 5th, 1943. Allen was awarded the Purple Heart
and the Silver Star, these awards being presented posthumously to
his wife.
The 32nd Red Arrow Division was busy again in World War II,
with recruits from the Chippewa Valley, as Lloyd W. Gibson
Quite a few of the fellas that, that I know in the service was the
Ludwikoskis and Brimmer and Henneman and Toske and Peeso,
and they were all very active in the platoon, but a good share of
them went a lot further in the combat area than I did. I just went,
got as far as the Buna Campaign, and of course I got wounded and
then went to the hospital and sent home. But some of ‘em went
further to Sanananda and Aitape and Leyte and Luzon, and that
was on the way up to Japanese, the home of the Japanese.
The list of casualties and tragic stories about military personnel
from the Chippewa Valley seems endless. Eau Claire alone lost
193 and had countless wounded soldiers. Even before the
founding of our great country, brave and loyal men and women
have championed its causes and the principles for which it stands.
The citizens of the Chippewa Valley have every right to take pride
in our sons and daughters who have served our country. Their
deeds, their leadership, their acts of heroism, all stand as a
testament to the true heritage of the people of the valley. Even
though this presentation does not include all the brave people of
the valley who have served our country, it does stand as a special
salute to all the honorable men and women who have risked or
given their lives for this great nation. We have been enriched
because of their sacrifices, and we must never forget them.
[End of Part One and Beginning of Part Two]
Honor and Remembrance: The Military Heritage of the Chippewa
Valley. Thousands of men and women from the Chippewa Valley
have served our country in the military, at home and abroad. The
accounts in this presentation are just a sampling of experiences
from a handful of these people. Yes, we realize these chronicles
may be somewhat partisan, but they are personal accounts of how
some of our people served and how they survived the wars.
Korean War
[Music “Glow Worm”]
The Korean War began on June 25th 1950, when North Korean
troops, paced by Russian built tanks and airplanes, invaded South
Korea without warning. Under General MacArthur, Commanding
General of all United Nations, U.N. troops were sent to the aid of
the South Koreans. Since Congress did not formerly declare war,
our government chose to call this a police action. This so-called
“police action” however, proved to be a bloody and costly military
conflict. Among the first to arrive as part of an amphibious landing
was Corporal George Shaker of Altoona. He was in the 1st Cavalry
Division and was fire director for a 105 millimeter Howitzer unit.
In the way of the North Koreans was this mount—this little hill,
and it was held by the Gloucestershire Battalion from Britain. And
they had about, oh four, five hundred troops. They had five
Centurion tanks, which is a heavy, heavy tank, real solid tank.
And they held that hill all night while we started pulling out from
that bulge to—they were trying to, they were saving our lives.
And finally they got down to the point where they had to load their
wounded into those five tanks. They had about forty wounded and
they put them into these tanks. Can you imagine trying to get eight
men into a tank? And they, those tanks were filled, they battened
down the hatches and they went right through lines. And then the
rest of the British, they stood up there on the hill. The commander,
the surgeon for the battalion, the chaplain, all the officers, they
didn’t try to get out in those tanks; they let the wounded get out.
They stood on that hill, and they fired ‘til they ran out of
ammunition, and then they, the North Koreans came up, and they
just wiped ‘em out.
Corporal Mitchell Red Cloud, a Winnebago Indian from Black
River Falls, earned the Congressional Medal of Honor while
serving in the Korean War. The citation, presented to his parents
by General Omar Bradley on April 5th 1951, reads:
“Corporal Red Cloud, Company E, 19th Infantry Regiment,
distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity
above and beyond the call of duty.”
Norman Henning of Eau Claire was with the Army artillery
And then I just about had my time in, and Harry Truman extended
us for another year, bless his soul [laughs]. And then we went
overseas, we landed over in Inchon, Korea, and we went right to
work. We went, we was in support of the 3rd Division and we were
way up north around Pyongyang in that area, and then we started
getting kicked back a little bit. We had the special codes, you
know, like say those at the rear would be called “Gun Powder,”
and we’d be called “Gun Powder Queen.” And we’d say “Gun
Powder, this is Gun Powder Queen, over.” And then we’d pick out
the coordinances and stuff and send ‘em back to the guns so they
could zero ‘em in. And then they’d shoot a round or two, and if
they were close then they’d say “Fire for effect,” you know, and
picked out things like that. And then about every other day or so
we’d have to change our name in case the enemy’d get a hold of it
or somethin’, why—
The Chippewa Valley had the misfortune to lose thirty-one soldier
boys in the Korean police action.
Berlin Crisis
[Music: “Blue Velvet”]
With the increased world tensions of the summer of 1961 the
Berlin Crisis resulted in a need to strengthen the armed forces of
the nation. And once again the 32nd Red Arrow Division was
called to active service. The division was reactivated on October
15, 1961, exactly twenty-one years to the day that the unit had
been called to defend the colors for service in World War II. It
remained active until August 10th, 1962. Many Chippewa Valley
men participated in the training that took place at Fort Lewis,
Washington. Arvin Ziehlsdorff, Eau Claire’s police chief at that
time, was one of the officers. He later became a Brigadier General
in the National Guard.
Ken Anderson, UW-Eau Claire’s winningest basketball coach, was
an Army Reserve Special Services Officer and coached the Fort
Lewis team to a 41 and 5 record. He had playing for him many
professional athletes, including Green Bay Packer’s Boyd Dowler
and Ray Nitschke, as well as local great Jack Ratta.
Fortunately the Berlin Crisis was soon over. Through negotiations
this crisis was somewhat resolved and most of our soldier boys
returned home. Although some of them did go to Germany with
the occupation forces.
Vietnam War
[Music “The End” by the Doors]
In the turmoil of the ’60s and’70s, the Chippewa Valley provided
many young men and women to fight in the controversial Vietnam
conflict. Eau Claire County alone lost forty-five men in that war.
Besides the tragedy of these deaths, families and friends were torn
apart over the controversial nature of the war, and the large number
of conscientious objectors. Plus, it was the first time in our history
that a war came right into our living rooms, in the form of
television. It was to be a long, unhappy war, with at times no end
in sight and with many of our young friends and relatives involved
in some of the gruelingest jungle warfare ever experienced. This
was evidenced in comments by an Eau Claire helicopter pilot.
Voice 5:
[Reading statement] My feelings about the war in Vietnam were
kinda strange. I didn’t wanna die, but once I sat down and thought
about it the fact came through that my chances of dying were
gonna be pretty darn good. More importantly I guess I never even
considered the fact that my country might be wrong in its policy in
Vietnam. You know I, like a lot of other folks, just assumed that
the government knew what it was doing and it was doing the right
thing. Well, I guess it was on a plane ride over the Pacific that it
really came to me, it really hit home, the fact that I may have just
seen my parents and my family, my friends for the very last time.
[Music “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones]
Jim Amodt of Bloomer was in Vietnam for 10 months.
In the Army I guess you never know what’s going on, even when I
was in the States I didn’t know what was going on, and I knew just
as little when I was in Vietnam. They don’t tell you anything.
They just tell you, “Well, get your gear together. We’re going out
on a sweep.” And they wouldn’t tell you where, and they wouldn’t
tell ya—they’d tell ya when, well, it’d be early, like if you left at
daybreak or something they’d tell you it was gonna be at daybreak,
and if it was 4:00 o’clock in the morning you’d be there and
chances are pretty good you wouldn’t leave until 6:00 or 7:00.
And then they’d take you some place on some trucks and then drop
you off, and you’d go out for a walk someplace. But, somebody’d
be directing you with a map, and they’d be lost, and they didn’t
know where they were so—and then finally you’d wind up
surrounding some village or something and go and then go through
and search it and never find anything on a—with a group that size
everybody, you know all the natives, all the people that live there
they know where, they know you were coming and when you were
coming, and so you, your chances of finding any weapons were, or
finding anyone there was very small.
Norm Hatch:
We got into Vietnam about the summer of ’65. And we relieved a
ship there that wasn’t a repair ship, but they were trying to do what
we were doing. One evening we got a emergency call that one of
our swift patrol boats, Number 4, was damaged. We didn’t know
exactly how bad it was damaged. We knew it was hit by a mine. It
had already sunk before we got there, and the people were all off
of the boat. The ones, most of ‘em was killed except for one
radioman and one other guy. And the radioman had both his legs
blown off of him. And he, they took him to the hospital, but he got
a mayday message out before they, you know, got him off to the
hospital. And he died then later, and the other one died on the way
to the hospital.
On April 2, 1966 Captain [later Colonel] Dan Doughty of
Ladysmith was piloting an unarmed U.S. Air Force reconnaissance
plane when it was struck by enemy ground fire over North
Vietnam. After ejecting from the exploding airplane, Doughty
floated safely to the ground. This was captured on film by
Doughty’s wingman. He landed, got rid of his chute, only to be
caught by the North Vietnamese. They jerked him flat on his back,
placed a noose around his neck, tied his hands behind his back and
led him blindfolded into the underbrush where they were hidden
from any rescuing planes. He was taken to a prison camp where he
remained for nearly seven years, making him one of the longest
incarcerated of all U.S. servicemen. He tells us about some of his
I got involved in Vietnam pretty early on. I went overseas in late
1964 to Misawa, Japan. Our unit there was tasked with flying
reconnaissance missions in Southeast Asia. So in early 1965 I
started my first combat missions in South Vietnam, North
Vietnam, and into Laos, flying out of Saigon. I’d fly in the RF-101
which is a large, single-seat, photo-reconnaissance airplane. I had
flown 168 combat missions in that area up until April of 1966.
And on April 2nd of 1966 I was on my 169th mission in the lower
part of North Vietnam. A bad weather day and we were down very
low to stay underneath the clouds, and I was shot down
approaching the last target. We had tasked on thirteen different
targets that day, and I was approaching the last one and was shot
down. The aircraft exploded within a couple of seconds after I was
hit, and I ejected out of a big ball of fire, very close to the ground.
My survival equipment all worked just like it was supposed to.
The parachute opened automatically once I cleared the aircraft, and
then I began my descent into North Vietnam. I was trying to steer
my parachute so I could land on a high piece of ground, but that
was, didn’t have enough altitude to get to that high ground, and I
ended up landing right in a big open valley at the base of a sheer
cliff. There were probably a hundred and fifty armed militiamen in
the area. They started shooting at me while I was still in the
parachute on the way down. They did put several holes in the
parachute canopy, and by the time I got on the ground they were
very close by, and I was captured within just a few seconds. They
got my six-shooter, I had that, but I guess probably one of the most
scary moments after I was initially captured was when the young
fella that got my six-shooter and he pulled the hammer back, held
it right up to my forehead, and he was shaking so hard that he, he
was probably just as shook as I was, and that lasted for, probably
less than a minute though, and another one of the Vietnamese got
in an argument with him, I believe over who was going to get to
keep the gun. And so they departed while the others tied me up,
blindfolded me, and they tied a noose around my neck and then
took me off running. We probably ran a couple of miles. It
probably the fastest two mile run I’ve ever made in my life because
they were, they would keep taking turns getting me in, and pushing
(??), and they wanted to get me as far away from the area because
they knew there would be a rescue aircraft in the area very soon.
Which there was after we had covered a couple of miles, they had
to push me down, covered me with a tarp and because the rescue
airplanes had showed up overhead. I spent about a month traveling
before I got to Hanoi and to the prison system in Hanoi. And once
I arrived there, ah, went to a camp that we called “The Zoo.”
Treatment was just downright miserable. I spent the first thirteen
months I was there in solitary. As I said the treatment was, was
miserable, atrocious. We were tortured brutally, often, for
different propaganda things. Long in, about that time was when
we also started being able to correspond with our families. My
family was in Japan with me when I went over there. I had my
wife and four children. And when I was shot down she stayed in
Japan for, until school was out, for the kids to get out of school,
and then she moved back to Wisconsin and raised the four children
by herself up in Ladysmith for the next seven years. My first mail
from her came in 1970 sometime, ’71. Of the letters that I wrote, I
probably wrote fifteen, I think only four or five ever got to my
family. And the same, I received a total of seven letters while I
was there, and I got five of those in the last two weeks that I was
there. Even worse than the U.S. Postal Service, there [laughs]. I
was in the first group released in April, or on February 12th of
1973. They released us according to the dates that we were shot
down. Those that were shot down first came home first. It was
kind of disheartening to watch those that were August and
September of 1966 shoot-downs because from day to day they
were on the go home list to those that had to stay another two or
three weeks, and it was really sad for them because one day they
were with us and were gonna be leaving and some of them right up
to the day before we left, and they were taken off and then put on
the group coming three weeks later which was no big deal, but the
way the Vietnamese do things you never know what’s gonna
happen in three weeks, so. Then on February the 12th of ’73 the,
we were loaded in buses and taken to Gia Lam Airport where the
U.S. Air Force flew in C-141s. We arrived there, and there’s one
C-141 sitting on the ramp. It was a big thing, and I knew it would
hold at least a hundred and forty people, and there was a hundred
and twenty of us, I think, coming out that day. Well, they
unloaded the first two buses, and that thing closed up its doors and
away it went. And you talk about a sinking feeling [laughs], to see
that take off and we’re still sittin’ there, and I think everybody on
the bus felt the same way I did. “Oh, what’s going on now?”, you
know. But as it turned out they had sent in three airplanes, they
didn’t know exactly what our condition would be, they had the
airplanes all configured for litters, and so they were only putting
forty people on each one and they had three airplanes. So we
just—a matter of waiting (??)—and there were—they had
determined, the Air Force had determined they were gonna put one
airplane on the ground at a time. And so once one would get
airborne then they’d land the next one and load it and go. So I was
on the third airplane out that first day. Quite a—after nearly seven
years, twenty-five hundred and eight days is what I spent there.
Unlike a lot of the veterans of Vietnam, when I did get back every
place we landed there was a big turnout to meet us. The greetings
couldn’t have been warmer. And when I got back to my
hometown of Ladysmith the whole city I think turned out. They
had the streets all decorated, and it was a fantastic day. When I—
never did have any doubts about our policy over there as far as
whether we should have been there or not, but I had a lot of
misgivings on the way that we fought the war. It was a—if ever
there was a lessons on what not to do, we did them all over there.
As far as whether we should have been there, I, I felt yeah, we had
a, a good reason to be doing it, but we sure messed it up. Had we
used the, our military force like it should have been we could have
ended the war in early 1966 without any problem at all.
J. Alan Jenkins:
We would get called out in the middle of the night. You know, the
Viet Cong would stage an operation, and they would blow up a
bridge. So we would go out in order to keep traffic going because
if you can imagine, this is like going into, um, have you ever been
in some of the wilderness parts of Wyoming where there’s one
road going in and one road going out? Well, if you’re a
mechanized army that road becomes critical, you know, and if
everything is rice paddies so if you’ve got anything that’s not on a
track you’ve gotta have the road open. Well, naturally they blow
the bridge, so they say to us, “C’mon out here.” We throw a
perimeter around the bridge, turn on lights about as bright as that
one, this is in the middle of the night. You’ve got all this stuff
blowing up around you, usually somebody’s burning down a
village, and you’re sitting there trying to repair a bridge so that
motorized traffic can continue on this road. I mean it’s Keystone
Cops stuff, you know, except that they were shooting at you. I’ve
heard it said, and I believe this is true, and I’ve talked to friends of
mine that were in the infantry, friends of mine that were in the
artillery, armor, that Vietnam was a period of intense boredom
punctuated by incredible terror. And I mean that’s a pretty good
The turmoil of the Vietnam conflict still wages war in the minds
and hearts of many veterans and their families. Contrary to World
War II, the Vietnam War was a war in which the U.S. was unable
to claim a decisive victory. There have been many years of
unspoken pain, but twenty-five years later people are finally
beginning to be able to wash away some of that pain as Vietnam
veterans and their families finally gain the respectability they
Desert Storm
[Music “God Bless the U.S.A.”]
Desert Storm had begun as Desert Shield with a high percentage of
the people surveyed across the nation in favor of U.S.
participation. President Bush and the voters were looking for a
quick and decisive end to the Iraqi domination of Kuwait and their
oil fields. Rich and Sue Mousel of Chippewa Falls both served in
Desert Storm.
Sue Mousel:
We were “Scudded” [attacked with Iraqi Scud missiles] every
night for about the first ten nights, and that was probably the
scariest experience during the whole time that I was over there, in
the three and a half months that I spent in Saudi. I remember
calling my husband about the first week and asking him if he had
seen the Patriots take out the Scuds on TV, and he said that he had
and I said, “Well so did I, right out of the apartment window.”
[laughs] And that, that was pretty frightening.
Barb Quick:
We were told that we had to leave the area, and so they brought in
six Chinooks for us to get into, and these Chinooks are these big
helicopters that would probably transport about thirty or forty
people per Chinook. And so we all kinda ran out to the Chinooks,
got onto them, and two, it took us two and a half days to get to our
final destination because we had the improper grid coordinates. So
we flew around the desert and toured the desert and saw it all
looked alike. One of the Chinooks had gone to a pump unit
[Forward Area Refueling Point], and that pump unit they had a
Scud attack at that night, and it so was funny because Colonel
Boehme (??) who told the story about how they yelled at him, they
all had to go take cover, so they told him to take a 45 degree right.
So he went to 45 degree right, and he went to this bunker, and he
thought was in a bunker and after he got out, or after they called
the all clear, he had taken off his gas mask, and what was so funny
is that he found out he was in the male urinal [laughs]! He was
quite angered at that.
Bill Fleury:
For me, it was, it was kinda like just another job, you know, it’s
something I train for all the time. I think I really have to give
credit to my family because they’re the ones that really had to pull
together, and all of a sudden they were sittin’ there having to do
everything for themselves while I was gone. So to me it was just
like going to another job, but for them it was, they probably had a
lot harder time than I did.
Paul Piskoty:
I went to Quantico, Virginia in late January. I reported there about
the 22nd of January and served with the, what the Marine Corps
calls their Family Service Center. The Family Service Center is set
up in the Marine Corps to assist families of service members in
dealing with things in the military, trying to deal with the stress
and stress of moves and things like that. There’s all kinds of
different information available at the Family Service Center. In
talking to the number of people that I talked to I found that there
were a lot of other people who were in worse shape. I had one
gentleman call up say, “I can’t come, my wife is seven months
pregnant,” and I said, “Join the club. Mine’s six. And I’m here.”
And he was in disbelief that they would make him come. I had
another phone call from somebody else who was in the seminary,
studying to be a priest, and he was trying to get out of his orders
for recall, but there was just no way to get through that. He had to
report. We had another phone call from a mother who opened a
mailgram addressed to her son. Her son was working for the State
Department in Yugoslavia. So there was no way he could report.
Those, that was one of the few, few exceptions that they would
allow somebody to get out of their recall orders, but they had to be
working for the U.S. government overseas to get out of it.
Chuck Major:
The contact that we had as we crossed over into Iraq with our
supplies, we encountered a number of Iraqis that were attempting
to surrender and to give up, and it eventually became huge
numbers that we encountered, and we, our responsibility then was
to, as we loaded supplies up into Iraq, we would take, on our
empty trucks back to a holding area in Saudi Arabia, the prisoners
of war that the, that needed to be transported. We could not
provide a large enough holding area in Iraq and so we had to move
them back into Saudi Arabia. So we would load them up on these
eighteen-wheelers and haul them back into Saudi Arabia. It was
very, very pathetic to see the condition that they were in. Most of
them had been extremely mistreated by the, by their own
countrymen. They were not properly fed, not properly clothed,
and, you know, I actually could witness smiles on their faces when
they were actually taken over by us because they eventually knew
that we would provide them with food as well as clothing.
Most refugees were dirty beyond belief, were insect infested and
had inadequate clothing. Most had no shoes. The Americans
provided whatever they could to help these unfortunate people. No
ugly Americans there.
Even before the founding of our great country, brave and loyal
men and women have championed its causes and the principles for
which it stands. The citizens of the Chippewa Valley have every
right to take pride in our sons and daughters who have served our
country. Their deeds, their leadership, their acts of heroism all
stand as a testament to the true heritage of the people of the valley.
Even though this presentation does not include all the brave people
of the valley who have served our country, it does stand as a
special salute to all the honorable men and women who have
risked or given their lives for the people of this great nation. We
have been enriched because of their sacrifices and we must never
forget them.
[End of Program]