Bio: Seelow & Meihack to be Honored (Military Service - 2016)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Garbisch, Anding, Hasz, Buckel

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 4/06/2016

Seelow and Meihack to be Honored (Military Service - 2016)

Seelow and Meihack to be Honored for Military Service

Fritz Seelow of Neillsville will be honored for his military service during a special recognition program Monday, May 2, 2106, at the American Legion Club. Seelow served in the Army National Guard from 1949 to 1952 and in the U. S. Army from 1952-1954. (Photos by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press/and a contributed photo)

By Todd Schmidt

Korean War-era veterans Fritz Seelow, 86, and Ron Meihack, 87, both of Neillsville, will be honored for their military service during a special recognition program Monday, May 2, 2016, at the American Legion Club. Social hour begins at 4:30 p.m. with a potluck meal at 5:30 p.m. and the program to follow.

Seelow served in the Army National Guard from 1949 to 1952. He was then drafted into the U. S. Army, serving from 1952 until 1954.

His family has a strong military tradition. His father, William, served in the Army during WWI. His brother, Kenneth, served in the U. S. Navy, and his brother, Russell, served in the Army during the Korean War. His youngest brother, William Jr., served for 34 years in the U. S. Air Force.

Seelow was born and raised on a modest farm on Granton Road operated by his mother, Sarah, and his father. He walked the 2.5 miles to school every day, attending the Northside School (grades 1-6, the Southside School (grades 7-8) and Neillsville High School, graduating in 1949.

Seelow excelled in football, playing left guard on offense and left tackle on defense.

Following graduation, he attended the farm short course in Madison. In 1950, he started working at the York Dairy, obtaining his master cheese-making license. Seelow also hauled milk.

He married Ardes DeMert in 1951. He was drafted into the service a year later.

After processing in Minneapolis, Seelow headed to Fort Sheridan, IL. His unit was then sent to Camp Roberts, CA, for basic training.

“That’s when I got my first airplane ride,” Seelow said. “I remember the weather was rainy and hot. We did a lot of target practice and marching. For 16 weeks, they taught us how to be soldiers.”

Seelow then attended officer training school for two weeks. Ardes and other military wives lived and worked near the base during that time. She headed back home when his unit was deployed.

Seelow and 1,200 other soldiers were sent overseas on a troop carrier, landing in Kobe, Japan, after 14 days on the ocean. The Far East Command then moved them to Inchon as part of the 7th Division, 31st Infantry.

“We were separated into line companies,” he said. “It was one of the scariest days of my life. We were replacing 17 soldiers that got killed the night before.”

Seelow said his unit actually saw very little action.

“We spent a lot of time digging foxholes,” he said. “I did get a perfect score one time in night vision target shooting.”

Seelow was transferred to the 17th Regiment as a truck driver hauling troops up the line. He eventually moved to POL (petroleum, oil and lubricants) duty. One day he looked up in the chow line and recognized a boxer from Chili, WI.

He recalled driving a truck through Seoul one afternoon.

“I put out my hand to signal a turn, and a young Korean fellow stole my watch,” he said.

Ardes said she used to send a package of cookies every week.

“I packed the cookies in popcorn to keep them from drying out,” she said. “The guys ate the popcorn with their beer.”

The armistice was signed July 14, 1953. Seelow received his honorable discharge Nov. 4, 1954.

Seelow and his unit were decommissioned in Seattle. He rode on a train back to Fort Sheridan, and then took a taxi to Milwaukee to meet Ardes.

They worked there for a short time, before deciding to return to the Neillsville area. He came back to a job at York Dairy, which had just been purchased by Mullins Cheese.

They lived on her parents’ farm. They purchased another farm near Granton, and for a while, she milked cows on one farm and he milked cows on the second farm.

“I said I would be a farmer for the rest of my life,” he smiles.

They sold the farms in 1964. He worked for O & N Lumber Company, which sold out to United Building Center. He then got a job working for the city water department, “retiring” in 1991. Seelow was then hired as a part-time director of public works, staying in that role until 1994.

Seelow was a member of the Neillsville Fire Department for 31 years, also serving as secretary-treasurer.

Seelow has had his share of of health challenges during his life. He has endured neck surgery (replacing three vertebrae with a metal plate) and open-heart surgery (bypass).

His hobbies include fishing, golfing and card playing. He and Ardes had three children and enjoy four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Their oldest son, Thomas, was killed by a stray bullet while deer hunting on Thanksgiving Day in 1982. Their other son, Fritz, died of a massive heart attack in 2006. Their daugher, Deborah, lives in Verona, WI.

One of their granddaughters served two tours of duty in Iraq, deployed with the Minnesota National Guard.

Seelow joined the American Legion in 1995. He has participated in the Honor Guard, and he and his wife have helped at numerous smelt feeds, cleaning the morsels and peeling potatoes.

Seelow was a member of the Neillsville Lions Club for 10 years. He served two terms as trustee of St. John’s Lutheran Church.

They have done a lot of traveling, taking two trips to Japan (Yokohama and Tokyo) and spending nine winters in Arizona, selling Christmas trees to offset the cost.

In 1995, the couple traveled to Virginia Beach for an army reunion. They took a motor home, towing a car behind, and toured much of the east coast.

“We had one goal in life,” he said. “You just can’t complain.” They will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in November.

Seelow had his photo taken Thursday wearing his father’s Legion hat. His dad was a Legion member for more than 50 years, and his mother was president of the Legion Auxiliary for quite a few years.

“Dad worked with the crew laying bricks for the former Legion Hall,” he said. “Once in a while, I helped make the mud for the bricks.”

Overall, Seelow is very glad and proud of his service to his county.

“I hated every minute I was in the service, but I wouldn’t take a million dollars for my experiences,” he said. “I met a lot of new friends.”

Ron Meihack of Neillsville will be honored for his military service during a special recognition program Monday, May 2, 2106, at the American Legion Club. Meihack served in the U. S. Army from 1950 to 1952. (Photos by Todd Schmidt/Clark County Press/and a contributed photo)

Meihack and his family (father, George, and mother, Sarah) lived on a six-acre parcel on Grand Avenue in Neillsville. Meihack attended St. John’s Parochial Grade School and graduated from Neillsville High School in 1946.

Meihack worked for the A & P Store until receiving his draft notice.

“Our friends and neighbors requested our presence,” he smiled.

Meihack entered the Army in December 1950. After processing in Minneapolis, the group was sent with the bulk of the 5th Division to Camp McCoy, WI, for basic training.

“It was 50 below zero that winter,” he said. “We put more clothes on to go to bed than we wore outside at home. It was so cold we only had to served guard duty half of the time. We had a big roomy barracks. We lived through it.”

Meihack was a member of the 235th Observation Artillery BTN. His unit trained in flash, sound, radar and survey techniques. They learned how to set coordinates for precision artillery strikes.

Meihack said typical duty included K-P and cleaning details.

“We also learned how to take orders,” he said.

The unit spent about a year at Camp McCoy, and then moved on to Fort Riley, KS, for 10 weeks of interrogator schooling.

“We traveled down there on the train,” Meihack recalled. “There was major flooding when we were there. Some areas had over 8 feet of water.”

The unit returned to Camp McCoy for a short time and then moved to Camp Polk, LA.

“It was terribly hot there,” he said. “You needed to hold a hanky to write a letter because it was so hot.”

Their last stop was Fort Sill, OK. Meihack was discharged Dec. 12, 1952, without having to pull duty in Korea.

“Some of us were lucky,” he said. “We were about six weeks short of our required time to be sent overseas.”

Meihack was on inactive status with the Army Reserves until 1957. He returned to the A & P Store, working there for a total of 13 years. He was a stalwart on the city basketball team.

He married Bette Zank in 1956 at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Meihack got a job at American Stores, which was bought out by Neillsville Milk Products. He then began working at the Clark County Forestry and Parks Department, retiring in 1990 after a 25-year career.

The couple also ran the Penguin Drive-In from 1964 to 1978.

They have three children: Scott, who is now the high school principal at a small high school in New Mexico; Lori, who lives in Ponderosas Village near Reno, NV; and Lynn, who resides in Fall Creek. The Meihacks are blessed with two granddaughters and one great-grandson.

They are major sports fans. Meihack follows college basketball and pro-football. They are both avid Green Bay Packer Fans.

All their children were involved in high school sports. Many times, they attended at least four games per week. Loir played volleyball at UW-Stout, while Scott played football at UW-Eau Claire.

Following retirement, the Meihacks took cruises to Alaska, Mexico and the Panama Canal. They also traveled to Nevada and Texas to visit their children.

They are both members of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. “I have been a lifetime member,” he said proudly. “I was baptized and confirmed there.”

Meihack has been a member of the American Legion for many years. He doesn’t like attending meetings, so he hasn’t been a real active member.

“Years ago, we helped clean smelt,” Bette said. “We also assisted with many Lutheran Brotherhood food packing activities.”

Meihack has kept busy keeping up with the house and the 40-acre site. They have lived there for 57 years, and this year, they will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary with a family party June 4.

“We enjoy it here, particularly the view,” Meihack said. “We feel it is really God-given.”

Meihack said he was glad he had the opportunity to serve his country.

“It was a whole different lifestyle than most of us were used to,” he said. “At the time, it was not good. Looking, back, there were a lot of fulfilling experiences. I met a lot of nice people and kept in contact with many of them.”

Meihack appreciated being able to fight for freedom.

“People complain about things,” he said. “We are fortunate to live in a free country like this. One thing you learn in the Army is never saying no. You just do what they tell you.”



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