News: Neillsville Am. Legion (Honors Filitz & Seefeldt - 2017)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Surnames: Filitz, Seefeldt
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark, Co) 4/26/2017
Neillsville Am. Legion (Honors Filitz & Seefeldt – May 2017)
Neillsville American Legion to Honor Filitz and Seefeldt
By Todd Schmidt
Neillsville American Legion Post 73 will honor military veterans Jim Filitz and Jim Seefeldt during its monthly recognition program Monday May 1. 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.
Community colleagues and Legion members are cordially invited to attend.
Jim Filitz joined the Wisconsin national Guard 32nd Infantry Division at the age of 17, retiring in February 1983. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, May 1, at Neillsville American Legion Post #73. (Contributed photos)
James (Jim) W. Filitz was born in Neillsville and attended the Riverside Grade School in the Town of Levis. He graduated from Neillsville High School in 1956.
At the age of 17, while still in high school, he joined the Wisconsin National Guard 32nd Infantry Division, a Service and Supply Company in Neillsville. His training was guard meetings every Monday night and two weeks of summer training at Camp McCoy.
After graduating, Filitz attended UW-Stevens Point for a year-and-a-half, taking up the conservation field. He then worked at UBC in Greenwood. He recalls, in humility, he was to march 40 men in front of the grandstand at the Neillsville Fairgrounds and marched them into a building.
Filitz also worked as a clerk typist. In October 1961, the National Guard was called to active duty, during the Berlin Crisis, at Ft. Lewis, WA. He was a squad leader for the 106th Recoilist Rifle Anti-Tank Weapons Company.
The training at Ft. Lewis included drills in the Olympia Rain Forest, on Mt Rainer and in the Yakima Desert.
The National Guard unit returned to Neillsville in August 1962. Filitz had many positions at the National Guard and later was the Recruiting and Retention NCO.
In the late 1970s, Wisconsin state employees went on strike. During this time, the National Guard replaced the guards at Waupun Mental Hospital.
Filitz worked in the mess hall and the recreation hall. He remembers meeting and talking with serial killer Ed Gein, who was placed at Waupun.
In February 1983, Filitz retired from the National Guard as an E-6. He stayed inactive for 10 years.
Filitz started working at Nelson Filter in 1964. There were only six employees at that time. He worked many jobs for a year, until the company was operating at full force.
Filitz worked at Nelson Filter for 33 years, retiring in February 1998.
He married Anne in 1963. She passed away in 2014.
Filitz was a 4-H leader and a Boy Scout master. He was also a lead instructor of the Hunter Safety course for 35 years. He still helps out at the Neillsville Gun Club.
Filitz was a deacon at the Neillsville United Church of Christ, where he continues to be an active member. He also serves as a greeter at The Highground.
Filitz enjoys hunting, and fishing with his family. He takes many wildlife pictures out of his open living room window into his scenic back yard. He has two special pictures; one of two fawns playing and another of a fawn nursing.
Filitz has taken many casts of wild animal tracks, including wolves and a huge bear.
He has lived in his home since 1964. “Now it is me and my dog,” Filitz said. “What I leaned in the military has helped me in my volunteer work.”
Filitz has one son, two daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
“I sincerely thank Legion Post #73 for this honor,” Filitz said.
Jim Seefeldt enlisted in the U. S. Army in 1968, serving a tour of duty in Vietnam. He will be recognized for his military service during a program Monday, May 3, at Neillsville American Legion Post #73. (Contributed photo)
James “Jim” Seefeldt was born in Harvard, IL. In 1950, the family moved to a farm in rural Granton. Seefeldt attended Granton High School, graduating in 1968.
While in high school, Seefeldt was involved in FFA, the Wisconsin Junior Dairy Association (WJDA) and 4-H. He was the top WJDA farmer in Wisconsin and received $500,000 to start a farming program.
He won the FFA State Farmer Degree and placed second in the U. S., in the American Farmer Degree.
Seefeldt enlisted in the U. S. Army in January 1968, during his senior year in high school. In June 1968, he went active duty, and was sent to basic training in Fort Campbell, KY.
He then went to Fort Leonard, MO, for truck driver training. He received his orders to go to Vietnam.
After a 30-day leave, he flew out of California to Bien Hoa, Vietnam. After three days at the 90th replacement center, Seefeldt was sent to the 9th Infantry Division at Bear Cat in the Central Highlands.
He was then moved to Dung Tam in 9th Division HQ. In November 1968, he was sent to the Delta 9th Supply and Transportation Company to Battalion B Co. 1st Platoon.
His job was transporting supplies to the different bases. While there he went to wakes for two of his men.
After the TET Offensive, Seefeldt was sent on a temporary duty assignment to the Navy Hover Craft outfit, which was a gun patrol on the Mekong River. After two months, he was sent back to the Supply and Transportation Company.
“While I was driving my truck one day, I picked up a People’s Vietnam Army soldier who wanted to turn himself in,” Seefeldt recalled. “I took him to the military police station.”
Another time while he was driving, his truck was shot at and the shell came through the back of the seat and entered his back just under his skin. Fortunately, he was protected by the seat and his flak jacket.
Seefeldt was blown off an ammo truck that was hit by enemy fire. His back and head were injured, but he received no treatment.
In the spring of 1969, he received word from the Red Cross that his father was dying of cancer, and he was ordered to go home. He was being flown by the general’s Huey to Bien Hoa, when the pilot noticed a firefight about halfway there.
Seefeldt and the pilot decided to assist the troops, as their motto was not to leave anyone. Seefeldt fired the guns on board, killing some of the enemy troops. The enemy force eventually retreated.
They then went to an area where the wounded Americans were. They made three trips to transport them to a field hospital, fighting their way back and forth.
“I know God had a hand in this because we never ran out of fuel or ammo,” Seefeldt said. “The Huey was full of holes and the guns were damaged.”
At this point, Seefeldt was more than ready to go home. He was flown from Bien Hoa Air Base to Okinawa to Wake Island, and to San Francisco. He then flew to Minneapolis and made his way home.
His father died in 1973. Because of his injuries, he returned the $500,000 that he received to start his own farm. He farmed on his father’s place until 1974.
Seefeldt then attended the technical college in Wisconsin Rapids for two years in the Diesel and heavy Equipment program. He worked at various jobs, fixing and driving trucks.
Seefeldt retired in 2000, due to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury. He currently receives treatment for these conditions.
He was married to Sharon and has two children James and Heidi. He enjoys four grandchildren.
Seefeldt relishes hunting and fishing. He also volunteers for activities at Legion Post #73.
He recently enjoyed a fishing trip to Green Lake with other veterans who are receiving therapy for medical conditions.
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