News: Neillsville American Legion (Honoring 3 Veterans - 2017)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

----Surnames: Meyer, Oliver, Bertrang, Hopfer, Kuhn

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark, Co) 12/28/2016

Neillsville American Legion (Honoring Three Veterans – 2 January 2017)

By Todd Schmidt

Neillsville American Legion Post 73 is ringing in the New Year in a big way, honoring military veterans, Dave Meyer, John Oliver, and Bob Hopfer during a special recognition program Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. Social hour is scheduled at 4:30 p.m., with a potluck meal starting at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program to follow.

Dave Meyer served in the U. S. Navy from 1961, until 1964 and then served in the active reserves until May 1967. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, at the Neillsville American Legion Banquet Hall. (Contributed photo)

Meyer was born in Medford. He attended Meadowview Grade School for six years and St. John’s Lutheran School for two years. He graduated from Neillsville High School in 1961.

Meyer signed up for the U. S. Navy while in high school. He was sworn in the day after graduation and went to boot camp at Great Lakes, IL.

He transferred to the Aviation Electronics and Radar School at NATTC NAS in Memphis, TN, for nine months. Meyer requested he did not want an assignment on the east coast, so after 14 days’ leave, he took a train to NAS Sand Point at Seattle, WA.

Meyer spent a few days there while waiting for his transfer, so he had the chance to attend the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle. He flew to Anchorage, AK, and then took a flight to his permanent base at ADAK Naval Station in Adak, AK, which is part of the Aleutian Islands.

His work was in the electronic shop. He was part of a hatch crew that would unload supplies from the ship for the base and then load personal items on the ship of the troops transferring out.

Meyer also maintained the HU160 amphibian planes that were used for water rescue.

He took a two-day trip to the Shemya Island to do some sightseeing. After one year at ADAK, he went home for a month’s vacation. In June 1963, he attended Anti-Submarine Warfare School at NAS North Island, San Diego, CA.

Meyer was transferred to VP19 Naval Air Station at Moffett Field, CA, where he worked in the electronics shop. He then went to Barbers Point, HI, for one week.

In December 1964, he separated from active duty and stayed in the active reserves, being discharged from the reserves in May 1967.

In 1965, Meyer attended UW-Stevens Point, majoring in biology. During the summer months for four years, he traveled to Yellowstone National Park where he was part of the trail maintenance crew. They camped out in the park, where their duties were to maintain the trails and take care of fallen trees.

Meyer graduated from UW-Stevens Point in 1969. He went to work for Plautz Brothers driving gravel trucks. In 1971, he worked out of Iowa hauling cattle to the northwest, and drove semi for Bill Johnson.

He worked a short time at the Neillsville Foundry and Figi’s. He then worked at Lynn Dairy, retiring from there in 2012.

Meyer lives on the home farm and keeps busy cutting wood. He spends many hours volunteering for many duties at the American Legion.

John Oliver served in the U. S. Army from September 1961 to September 1963 and then served in the Reserves until 1967. He was honorably discharged and then re-enlisted in 1977, serving in the Reserves until 2001. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, at the Neillsville American Legion Banquet Hall. (Contributed Photo)

Oliver was born at his grandmother Bertrang’s home in the Globe area. He attended grade school in Fairchild and graduated from Fairchild High School in 1960.

He was drafted into the U. S. Army in September 1961. He received his basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.

Oliver then went to Fort Carson, CO, for training in the use of the Howitzer weapon. He was transferred to the 92nd Artillery at Fort Bragg, N.C.

In 1962, he received orders to go to Cambodia. He remembers camping out in the jungle, only spending a few months there.

In 1963, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his unit loaded equipment and bolted it down on a ship that was sent to Cuba. His unit convoyed to Florida.

After about 10 days, they went back to Fort Bragg. While there, Oliver worked as an artillery surveyor, which included setting the positions of the artillery guns.

For a few months, he also was the driver for the Marine General, who was in charge of training the Marines like Green Berets. Oliver also stacked gold bard that weighed 69.3 lbs. each on a plane.

“I did not know where they were being sent to,” Oliver said.

He was discharged in September 1963. After returning home, he was required to be in the Army Reserves Active Duty at the 14th Army in Neillsville for four years.

Oliver lived in Racine, from 1964-1966 while he stayed in the Reserves. He also worked at the Standard Foundry and the JI Case Company.

He was honorably discharged from the Reserves in August 1967. He moved back to Fairchild and started working at Presto in Eau Claire, where he inspected Howitzer shells manufactured there. During this time, he was on a 10-year civilian break.

In 1977, Oliver joined the Army National Guard Red Arrow Division located at Neillsville, out of Onalaska, that was part of the 32nd Brigade.

In 1986, he went to the 120th Field Artillery, all part of the 32nd Brigade at Wisconsin Rapids. During this time, he was sent to Germany for “Return of Forces” training.

“I remember sleeping in tents in the snow,” Oliver said. “A lot of training could not be done because the ground was too soft. The training was cut by about 90 percent.”

Oliver was honorable discharged in September 2001 after 24-and-a-half years of service.

In 1977, he started working at Nelson Industries in Neillsville. He retired in 2004 after 28 years.

He married Carol in 1984 and they live in Fairchild. He enjoys hunting, fishing, trapping, taxidermy, and weight lifting. He also likes to draw and paint, especially wildlife, and making signs for companies and organizations.

Oliver does gun repair and takes care of the rifles at the American Legion for the Firing Squad and the Color Guard. He is a member of the Color Guard and the Firing Squad. He also participates in gun shows.

He and Carol are dedicated volunteers at the American Legion for the fish fry, steak feed, and Legion breakfast.

Bob Hopfer served in the U. S. Navy from 1959 to 1963. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, at the Neillsville American Legion Banquet Hall. Hopfer did not have a photo available of himself during his time in the Navy. (Contributed Photo)

Hopfer was born in San Diego, CA, as his father was in the U.S. Navy and stationed there.

When Hopfer was 4 years old, his parents moved to Neillsville. He attended St. Mary’s Catholic Grade School and graduated from Neillsville High School in 1959. During high school, he worked at the IGA store, Svetlik Motors, and the Adler Theatre.

In July 1959, Bob joined the Navy and was sent to boot camp at Great Lakes, IL, where he was trained as a machinist.

He was transferred to Newport, RI, where he received schooling as a machinist to operate the ship he would be assigned to. The Springfield was being rebuilt and was not ready to be commissioned, so the Navy sent Hopfer to Quincy, MA, where he spent several weeks in additional training.

When the ship was ready, Hopfer went to the Boston Naval Yard to board the ship. In October 1960, the ship sailed to the Caribbean Islands for a trial run and came back to Boston. At the end of that same year, they received orders to go to the Mediterranean.

The Springfield was a guided missile ship and was the flagship of the 6th Fleet. Hopfer worked as a machinist mate aboard the ship. He was assigned to the turbine engine room, doing maintenances as needed. The ship was in the Mediterranean Sea during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Hopfer’s total time aboard was three years.

He received his discharge in July 1963. After the service, he moved to Milwaukee, where he worked at several jobs until he was hired at A. O. Smith. He retired in 2002.

Hopfer married Sylvia Kuhn in 1967. They lived in Milwaukee for 38 years.

They now live on the Kuhn family farm south of Neillsville. They have four children and seven grandchildren.

He used to do a lot of hunting and fishing. He now mainly takes care of their home.

He and Sylvia are dedicated volunteers at the American Legion. They do the weekly preparing of the potatoes on Thursday mornings and, also work the fish fry and the steak feed.



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