News: Neillsville – Am. Legion Honors Thoma/Schultz (Feb 2018)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
----Surnames: Thoma, Schultz, Hagedorn, Roberts, Kurasz, Knodle, Eisfeldt, Nixon
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark, Co) 1/31/2018
American Legion to Honor Thoma and Schultz (Military Service – February 2018)
American Legion Recognizes Thoma and Schultz
By Scott Schultz
Rick Thoma and Marcus Schultz are the veterans being honored in February by the American Legion Post 73 in Neillsville.
Rick Thoma is one of this month’s honored veterans. (Contributed photos)
Thoma was born in Marshfield and attended the Worchel School for eight years, and then in 1968, graduated from Neillsville High School. After graduation, he worked at Nelson Filter until being drafted into the U. S. Army in July 1969.
He received advanced individual training in artillery, operating a 105 Howitzer, at Fort Sill, OK, before being sent to Vietnam in December of 1969.
Thoma was assigned to Headquarters Battalion of the 101st Airborne Division during the year-long Vietnam tour, ordering ammunition for the 18 Howitzers in three artillery batteries.
The time in Vietnam started with him stationed 55 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone; he was then stationed at the Landing Zone Sally firebase, and later moved south to Phu Bai next to Camp Eagle.
Thoma’s unit prepared ammunition that was shipped to firebases by truck, and by aircraft when roads weren’t available. He also went on raids with other units.
One day’s mission fired at 60 different targets, Thoma said, which included 1,200 rounds of artillery ammunition that created many secondary explosions.
The memories are mixed about his time in Vietnam.
“The first Christmas in Vietnam was great,” Thoma said. I saw the Bob Hope show.”
He said the hottest day was in May of 1970, when the temperature hit 106 degrees by 10 a.m. And, he remembers plenty of rain – September of 1970 being the wettest, with 117 inches of monsoon season rain falling.
A decision faced Thoma in October of 1970. President Richard Nixon had announced the start of troop withdrawals from Vietnam, and troops who were there were given the option of an early discharge if they extended their tours.
“I was faced with the decision of coming home or staying and earning an early out,” he said.
Thoma wrote to his parents to tell them he’d stay and add an extra 63 days to his tour. That took five months off of his overall enlistment, allowing him to be home for good when he returned to the United States.
That also gave him the chance for a week of rest and recuperation in Australia, and he got to see his second Bob Hope Show.
Thoma returned home in February of 1971 – a day he noted that he got to see twice because he crossed the International Date Line.
The veteran returned to work at Nelson Filter, and in 1973 enlisted in the Army National Guard. He served as the supply sergeant with the ANG’s 106th Service and Supply Company.
Thoma married Bonnie Hagedorn in March of 1973. They have three children: Tammy, Lisa and Dallas, and grandchildren: Lainey, Abigail and Maxwell.
He worked 40 years at Nelson Filter, retiring in 2009.
Thoma is a life member of American Legion Post 73, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was the Legion post’s commander for four years, when the post’s new building was constructed. He also served as the post’s vice commander and for 16 years was on its House Committee.
The honoree said he enjoys fishing, camping, crafting and making maple syrup, along with bowling on the Legion post’s team.
Marcus Schultz is one of this month’s honored veterans. (Contributed photos)
Schultz was born in the old Neillsville Hospital on State Street, and then attended Hillside School and St. Mary’s Catholic School before attended and graduating in 1964 from Neillsville High School.
After high school graduation, he worked a short time at Nelson Muffler and attended Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC), graduating in 1966 as a machinist.
The honoree joined the Navy in September of 1966 – first attending weekly Naval reserve meetings and then going to boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.
In September of 1967, he went on active Navy duty, receiving training as a boiler technician. He went on a training cruise aboard a destroyer escort in the Corn Belt Fleet.
Schultz was stationed aboard the USS Granville S. Hall YAG 40, homeported at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He was assigned to B Division, which produced steam for propellant auxiliary machinery and for the distillation of salt water. While in port, Schultz did maintenance in the boiler room and stood many quarter-deck watches.
Schultz said the USS Granville wasn’t assigned to the Navy. It was the only ship that received its orders from the Desert Test Center in Nevada, doing various testing for the CHAD project. The ship spent extensive time at Eniwetok Atoll in the chain of islands north of the Marshall Islands.
The veteran left active duty in December of 1978, and a few months later was activated in the Naval Reserve because his classification was needed.
After Schultz was discharged, he moved to Milwaukee and worked as a machinist at Harley Davidson. He then returned to Neillsville, where he worked at Russell’s Hardware.
Schultz married Mary Beth Roberts in 1971; they have children: Joe and Jessie and grandchildren Zeb and Halo, with a third grandchild on the way.
The took over his family’s dairy farm in 1977.
“I’m the fifth generation to do so,” he said.
Schultz retired in 2012, when his son Joe purchased the farm.
He’s driven school buses for the Neillsville School District since 1971.
The honoree is an American Legion Post 73 member and serves on its honor and color guard.
Schultz is president of the Neillsville Gun Club and enjoys trap shooting. He said he also enjoys hunting with his son and friend, helping his son on the farm, spending time with his grandchildren and taking trips in his Corvette.
American Legion news
Schultz and Thoma will be honored during Post 73’s Feb. 5 meeting at the Neillsville American Legion facility. A social hour will be at 4:30 p.m., with a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. Attendees should take a dish to pass. The program will start at 6:15 p.m.
A large crowd of family and friends of January’s honorees attended the Legion’s January meeting. Organizers thank St. John’s Church for the music and offer apologies for not mentioning Lee and Joan Kurasz’s son Craig in Lee’s biography – he died more than a year ago.
Ellie Knodle and Willow Eisfeldt attended the meeting as guests at January’s Auxiliary meeting. They reported about their experience last summer at the Badger Girls’ State Conference.
Marcus Schultz reported that the Neillsville Gun Club will sponsor an honor-flight shoot 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 2 at the gun club, west of Neillsville along USH10. Most of the event’s proceeds will be donated to veterans to go on an Honor Flight.
Post and Auxiliary members also are reminded to pay their dues.
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