It was one of the big mysteries in our family tree: what ever happened to Sebastian Treutel, brother to Philipp Treutel, who came to Wisconsin from Darmstadt, Germany in 1854? The only indication we had in our records was that Sebastian died around the year 1877 at age 41. We did not know a place or cause of death.
Thanks to some research done by a local historian in West Bend, Wisconsin, we have more answers about Sebastian. His name appears on a Civil War monument recently placed at Union Cemetery in West Bend, where his brothers John Treutel and Henry J. Treutel are buried. The managers of Union Cemetery confirmed that Sebastian Treutel is buried in Block 2, Lot 19 of the cemetery. There is no headstone visible. It could have been swallowed by the earth, damaged or removed sometime during the past 140 years.
Information provided by the local historian says that Sebastian died on January 19, 1876. We are working to confirm this with evidence, such as a news clipping. The cemetery has no recorded death date. A 1937 obituary for Sebastian’s widow, Anna Sophia (Schultz) Treutel, listed the year of his death as 1877. It appears that Sebastian’s service in the Civil War weakened his constitution and might have played some role in his death.
Sebastian Treutel enlisted in Company A of the 26th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment on August 15, 1862. He was assigned the rank of private. Company A, commanded by Capt. William Georg, was nicknamed the “Flying Rangers.” Sebastian’s last name is misspelled as “Treudel” in regimental records. At the time, Sebastian was living in Milwaukee, probably working with one of his brothers in the blacksmith trade. His younger brother, Henry, enlisted as a corporal in Company G of the 26th Wisconsin, known as the Washington County Rifles.
The 26th Wisconsin fought a critical battle in April and May 1863 at Chancellorsville, Virginia. According to the History of the 26th Wisconsin Infantry,Union forces at Chancellorsville were not prepared for the Confederate assault on their right flank. The 26th Wisconsin and the 58th New York tried to make a stand at Hawkins Farm. They could not hold, but fought bravely enough to give the Union time to evacuate supplies and forces. Sadly, newspapers in New York and Milwaukee unfairly tagged the men of the 26th as cowards, inaccurately claiming they dropped their weapons and ran. the Union suffered 14,000 casualties in the battle, but the Confederates lost their commanding lieutenant general, Thomas Stonewall Jackson.
According to West Bend historian Bev Hetzel, Sebastian Treutel became ill during the Chancellorsville battle. The illness led to heart problems and Treutel was discharged from the war on August 18, 1863. The reason listed was disability.
On November 18, 1867, Sebastian married the former Anna Schultz in a justice of the peace ceremony in the town of Addison, Washington County, Wisconsin. The marriage record says Sebastian was a carpenter. Witnesses to the wedding were Henry Schultz and John Russo. Parents of the groom were listed as Adam Treutel and Catharina Treutel. Parents of the bride were listed as Henry and Anna Schultz. The presider was Justice of the Peace Francis Forster, a farmer from the town of Addison.
Sebastian was listed on the 1870 U.S. Census as a carpenter in Addison, Washington County. Later in the 1870s, he worked as a U.S. mail carrier, working the route from West Bend in Washington County to Theresa in Dodge County. Postal service records show his contract was annulled as of July 31, 1875. Given the suggested death date, perhaps he was ailing at the time.
Sebastian and Anna Treutel had four children:
Margaretha Maria, born January 3, 1870. She married Louis Emil Dettmann in 1890. We do not know Maggie’s death date.
Ida Magdalena, born February 22, 1872. She married Edward H. Grundmann. Ida died in 1944.
Herman Sebastian Ludwig, born May 6, 1874. He married Dorothea Treutel (maiden name unknown). Herman died in 1912.
Christina Henrietta, born April 24, 1876. She married Emil Joseph Weiner. Tena died in 1960.
Anna Treutel remarried in 1880. New husband Carl Frederick Bohlmann was 48, while Anna was 29. They had one child, Clara (Bohlmann) Laisy (1881-1964). Mr. Bohlmann died in 1917. Anna died on August 5, 1937 in Milwaukee.
Note: The Treutel family headed by Johann Adam Treutel and Elizabetha Katharina (Geier) Treutel emigrated from Koenigstadten in the Hesse-Darmstadt region of Germany in 1854. Read more about that here. Our connection to the family goes this way: Johann Adam Treutel (1800-1859) >> Philipp Treutel (1833-1891) >> Walter Treutel (1879-1948) >> Ruby (Treutel) Hanneman (1904-1977) >> David D. Hanneman (1933-2007).
It seems the story of Charles Grinolds and his new bride, Margaret, got noticed across the pond in Great Britain. The former Margaret Eley was native to England. We’ll let Carl F. Hanneman of the Wisconsin State Journal tell the story from the June 30, 1946 issue:
Journal Story on Mauston Welcome to GI Bride Moves British Paper to Congratulatory Ending
MAUSTON, Wis. — Mrs. Charles Grinolds, British war bride, and The Wisconsin State Journal’s account of her welcome at Mauston last winter, received considerable attention in the British press. The comment of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express, published May 16, follows:
“In pondering Mr. Churchill’s suggestions that America and Britain should think about setting up house together in the political sphere, it is not entirely impertinent to think of the tens of thousands of British girls and American boys who have had the same idea in the domestic realm.
They and their relatives must be more than a little tired of the jokes on this topic and while it is true that an international marriage has special problems, it must be remembered that two out of every 10 all-British marriages are now providing work for the matrimonial courts, divorce courts or solicitors’ offices, and there is no evidence that the proportion of unsuccessful British-American marriages is as high as that.
The great majority which turn out most happily do not usually make news, so we are pleased to mention the happy welcome which was given to Mrs. Charles Grinolds (nee Margaret Eley), only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. V. Eley of Ashwell, when she arrived at her new home at Mauston, Wisconsin, U.S.A.
With her husband, former Staff Sgt. C. Grinolds, and Charles Victor Jr., who was born after his father left England last July, Mrs. Grinolds arrived at her new hometown at 4 a.m. but found crowds and (Wisconsin State Journal) photographers awaiting to welcome her, a repeat performance of what had already happened at Chicago.
It was at Chicago that Margaret had a big surprise. While she was following the military policeman assigned to her at the railroad station, a civilian came up and took the baby from her arms. She was frightened at first, but then realized that the young man was no stranger. It was her husband, whom she had not expected would meet her at Chicago and whom she had never before seen in civilian clothes.
Bigger surprises were to come.
This is what happened to Margaret at Mauston, according to the Wisconsin State Journal:
‘Thrilled with a surprise house new and completely furnished, Mrs. Grinolds found it furnished even to pictures and books, and in the basement were 187 quarts of fruit, 30 quarts of canned chicken and other canned goods. On the table in a modernistic kitchen was a large angel food cake with the inscription ‘Welcome,’ while the percolator was sputtering its tune upon a recently installed new electric range.
‘Nice work, Margaret.’ ”
After publishing the original blog post on this subject in 2015, I received correspondence from Nigel Reed, a nephew of the couple from the Eley side of the family. Nigel supplied a digital copy of the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Express with the May 1946 Grinolds story. That, in turn, led me to discover two additional articles written by my grandfather Carl in 1946. The first is detailed above. The other appeared in The Wisconsin State Journal February 18, 1946, the day before Mrs. Grinolds reached Mauston and saw her new home:
Furnished Bungalow Awaits English Bride of Area Man
By Carl F. Hanneman
State Journal Correspondent
MAUSTON — A completely furnished five-room modern bungalow is waiting in Mauston for Mrs. Helen Margaret Grinolds as a surprise for the English war bride, wife of Staff Sgt. Charles Grinolds, Mauston.
Mrs. Grinolds was among the hundreds of war brides scheduled to arrive in New York last weekend on the Santa Paula, and was to come directly to Mauston with their son, Charles Victor, who was born July 29, 1945, after his father left England for home.
She was to arrive in Mauston late today.
Sgt. Grinolds entered service in February 1942 and left for England in September 1942. He was stationed in England for 33 months and returned home in July 1945. He was discharged that September.
The couple was married in St. Mary’s church at Ashwell, England, and theirs was the first Anglo-American wedding performed in Ashwell during the war. Mrs. Grinolds is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H.V. (Harold Victor) Eley, Ashwell, and she has one brother, Antone, 16. •
My original post had details on Charles, his military history and his untimely death in 1950. But with the help of Mr. Reed and some additional digging, we can put more details to this heartwarming love story.
Charles Dockstader Grinolds died on Sunday, July 30, 1950 at his Mauston home of a heart ailment. He was just 36. By that time, he and Margaret had three sons: Charles Victor, who had celebrated his 5th birthday the day before his father’s death; Anthony Basil, 3; and Stephen McClellan, 1. After suffering such a devastating loss, Mrs. Grinolds took her sons and returned to England and the support of her family. They came back to the United States in August 1951 aboard the ship Queen Mary.
Mrs. Grinolds married William Osborne in Mauston on March 30, 1952. The couple moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1965. She died September 5, 1972 in Colorado Springs.
The three sons of Charles and Margaret Grinolds all had military careers like their father. Charles V. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and in Iraq. He died on June 10, 2006. Stephen M. Grinolds served in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1967-1972. He died on December 23, 2005. Anthony B. Grinolds served in the U.S. Air Force in England. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.
More than 15,000 Catholic soldiers, along with friends and relatives, took part in a May 1918 field Mass at Camp Dix at which they heard the president of Fordham University declare the Allies would win World War I because “God wills it.”
I don’t recall exactly where I obtained my photo of this incredible event. Nor do I know how the photo was captured. The panoramic view made for a photo print that is easily 3 feet wide. It stretches from the Knights of Columbus hospitality hall all the way to the end of the crowd.
Held on the parade grounds of Camp Dix, N.J., the Mass was read by Father Patrick J. Hayes, who would later become a cardinal and archbishop of New York. Mass included a patriotic sermon by Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Mulry S.J. of Fordham University. “Dr. Mulry assailed the slacker who uses religion as a cloak for his cowardice,” wrote The New York Times. “He declared it was not only the country that is calling the men of the fighting nations, but God also.”
“We must not enjoy a dishonorable peace,” Mulry said. “Go forth, Christian men, to aid the boys who are in the trenches. They are holding them for you. Victory will come. God wills it.”
Mulry had long supported the Allied war against Germany. At a Knights of Columbus field Mass in May 1915, Mulry said 20 million Catholic men were prepared to back President Woodrow Wilson should the United States join the war. His sermon stressed the idea of a patriotic Catholic, something that was often under attack by Protestants.
“The Catholic of today puts into the state not the wavering intellectual culture of Athens, not the physical splendor of Rome, nor the deadly energies fostered by materialistic evolution,” Mulry said. “Not the ungodly tendencies of modern mechanical idealists, but the undying strength featured by the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God.”
“If the crisis were to come today, the Knights of Columbus would be the first to rally to the flag,” The New York Times wrote, quoting Mulry. While he gets his religion from Rome, Mulry told the gathering, “the Catholic soldier will lay down his life for his country and as he clasps the cross in his hands, his heart blood will ebb for faith, for country and for God.”
The Knights of Columbus put its young men up to fight, but that was only part of the expansive, unprecedented war work carried out by the K of C locally and abroad between 1917 and 1921. The Order pledged an initial $1 million to establish a war relief fund. The money helped establish a vast network of more than 300 war relief centers in the U.S. and across combat zones in Europe. These Knights of Columbus “huts” offered a place to unwind, but also supplied soldiers with scarce creature comforts like chocolates, cigarettes, candies and hot chocolate. (The large K of C hut at Camp Dix is visible at left in the panoramic photo.) Soldiers from many countries and religious denominations came to know the K of C emblem as a welcome sight. Each K of C war center hung a prominent sign for all to see: “Everyone Welcome. Everything Free.” The nickname “Casey” became synonymous with the Knights of Columbus staff at the relief centers. A typical soldier’s response upon meeting a K of C worker was, “Hello, Casey. Have you got any chocolates and doughnuts?”
Father Mulry attempted twice to retire from his job at Fordham so he might go to France and enter war work. On the third attempt in 1919, he did retire from his post at Fordham. He was so anxious to go overseas that he offered to pay $5,000 a year toward the salary of his successor. He died in Philadelphia in August 1921 at age 47 after a long illness.Two of his brothers were also priests. His other brother, Thomas M. Mulry, was a bank president, philanthropist and 1912 winner of the Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame.
Sadly, Father Mulry’s patriotism isn’t always remembered fondly. Fordham University’s archivist in 2014 described Mulry as “sort of a warmonger” whose speeches did not sound like those of a Catholic priest. The patriotic fervor in his talks, she contended, “was all for image.” This modern attitude fails to appreciate the deeply held patriotic views of many priests during World War I. Men like Father Raymond Mahoney, former pastor of St. Rose Catholic Church in Racine, Wisconsin. Father Mahoney was known for his patriotic sermons, including a memorable talk on liberty and the American flag. That will be the subject of a forthcoming article.
The feature story below was written by my grandfather, Carl F. Hanneman, and published in The Wisconsin State Journal on February 21, 1946. It relates the tale of a U.S. army medic, his British bride and baby, who were separated from him for more than six months at the end of World War II. Below the story I provide some more detail on Charles D. Grinolds and his World War II service.
Mauston Vet Escorts British Bride and Son Into New Home Replete Even to Food on Table
By Carl F. Hanneman State Journal Correspondent
MAUSTON — Thrilled with a surprise house, new and completely furnished, Mrs. Charles Grinolds, Ashwell, England, has joined her husband here and introduced him to his son, Charles Victor, who was born after his staff sergeant father left England last July.
When Mrs. Grinolds entered her new home at 4 a.m. Tuesday she found it furnished even to pictures and books, but in the basement were 187 quarts of fruit, 30 quarts of canned chicken, and other canned goods.
On the table in the modernistic kitchen was a large angel food cake with the inscription, “Welcome,” while the percolator was sputtering its tune upon a recently installed new electric range.
It all climaxed a separation which began early last July, when Grinolds left England just before his son was born. The long wait ended happily , too, for Charles Victor, Jr., was no worse off from the long, tedious journey, and laughed and cooed in his father’s arms as father and son inspected the comforts of their five-room bungalow.
The mother, the former Margaret Eley, although totally exhausted, prepared the baby’s formula before tucking him into his new little bed.
The couple was married in St. Mary’s church in Ashwell, the first Anglo-American wedding in the community during the war. The father served overseas for 33 months, then had to leave before his son was born.
Mrs. Grinolds left England on the American “Santa Paula,” formerly a hospital ship, and was on the water 11 days, arriving in New York last weekend four days overdue because of storms. She was confined to her quarters by seasickness for three days, but the baby appeared to enjoy the trip.
The sight of land, any land, was a great thrill after the rough voyage during which seas rolled over the decks. Upon leaving the ship in New York, the war brides and babies were taken on a sightseeing tour to acquaint the new Americans with their adopted land.
Grinolds, recently discharged, was waiting anxiously in a Chicago railroad station when his family arrived. His wife, who was not expecting her husband in Chicago and had never seen him in civilian clothes, was following a military police assigned to her and became frightened when her husband came up from behind and took the baby from her arms.
But then she was home. ♦
Richard Dockstader Grinolds was drafted into the U.S. Army in February 1942 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He became a staff sergeant in the Army Air Force and was stationed in England with the 324th Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group. His specialty was medical technician. He was featured several times in U.S. Army news photos; twice carrying wounded and once for a feature on a rash of illnesses among troops in England. The 91st Bomb Group was home to the famous “Memphis Belle” B17 Flying Fortress.
Grinolds lost his father, McClellan Grinolds, in 1918, when the boy was just 4. He and his brother were raised by their mother, the former Ruby Elizabeth Dockstader. The Grinolds and Dockstaders were both pioneer Juneau County families. The Hanneman family lived just around the corner from Dockstader Street, named for pioneer Benjamin Dockstader.
The baby featured in the story above, Charles Victor Grinolds, was born in England on July 29, 1945, as his father was headed back to the United States. He was one of four children born to the couple. Sadly, Charles D. Grinolds died on July 30, 1950. He was just 36. He is buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Mauston. The firstborn son grew up to have a distinguished military career, serving in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War. He died on June 10, 2006 in Modesto, California. He was the father of six children.
Whether by voluntary enlistment or draft, the Civil War that began in April 1861 took fathers and sons away for years — and sometimes forever.
Michael Kennedy of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was in the first wave of men to enlist after President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union. The son of Sylvester and Mary Kennedy joined the 16th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment at Camp Randall in Madison on November 21, 1861. The regiment mustered into service on January 31, 1862 and left the state on March 13 en route to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. After several days encampment along the Tennessee River, the 16th Wisconsin was attached to the Sixth Division, Army of the Tennessee, commanded by Brigadier Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss.
Early on April 6, Capt. Edward Saxe of the 16th Wisconsin’s Company A was ordered to make an advance toward the Confederate line. Within a short distance, an enemy volley killed Saxe and Sgt. John Williams. Thus opened the deadly Battle of Shiloh. The Battle of Shiloh went down in the annals of war as one of the bloodiest ever fought. It was a turning point for the Union. For much of the day, a desperate battle raged back and forth between Union and Confederate forces.
“The rebel hordes were coming on in front and flank, rolling up great columns like the waves of the ocean,” wrote Pvt. David G. James. Companies were moved in and out as ammunition and supplies ran short. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant told Gen. Prentiss if he could hold his position until sundown the army would be safe. Prentiss and his troops held until 5:30 p.m., when they were surrounded and more than 1,000 men taken prisoner. April 6 closed “at that time the bloodiest battle ever fought on the American continent,” James wrote. Prentiss’ Sixth Division suffered 236 killed and 928 wounded, in addition to the 1,008 captured.
At some point in wild battle, Kennedy was seriously wounded and captured by Confederate forces. Union troops were not able to recover bodies or make a full accounting of the missing until April 7, 1862. Kennedy was held prisoner at Corinth, Mississippi, where he died from his wounds on April 26, 1862. He was 20 years old.
We don’t know how much the captivity contributed to Kennedy’s death. Confederate prison camps were notorious for squalid conditions and severe mistreatment of Union soldiers. Kennedy was one of 39 soldiers from the 16th Wisconsin who later died from wounds sustained in the Battle of Shiloh. Overall, the 16th Wisconsin suffered 62 dead and 189 wounded in the battle. Kennedy is buried at Sacred Hearts Cemetery.
MAUSTON, Wisconsin — Mauston residents don’t believe in the “unlucky 13” superstition anymore. They can’t after seeing 13 familiar faces that have been absent so long once again through their city streets.
These 13 familiar faces belong to Mauston servicemen, all of whom have seen service overseas and all of whom arrived home at about the same time to vi‘sit their families.
The 13, whose service abroad totals 240 months, were feted at an informal dinner and dance at the Mauston American Legion hall, under the joint sponsorship of the American Legion post and the Mauston Rod and Gun Club, and for a time they once again became “that kid next door” or that “Joe’s boy” as they let the cares of the war drop from their uniformed shoulders.
The group includes a man who went through the entire New Guinea campaign with the famed 32nd Division; a man who stood guard over the Japanese at a prison camp overseas; a man who was taken a prisoner of war only to be released at the capitulation of Romania; a man who went through the invasions of Italy and Sicily with the Navy, and others whose heroic deeds were written in most any theater imaginable.
It also includes four airmen who have completed a total of 118 missions. The Lucky 13 are:
Capt. Riley D. Robinson, 31, whose wife and child live in Mauston, who served as supply officer and battery commander with the 32nd Division in Australia and throughout the New Guinea campaign for 30 months.
Corp. Edward Dwyer, 30, son of Mr. and Mrs. Burt Dwyer, a veteran of three and one-half years of service, two and a half years of which were spent in the southwest Pacific area.
Pfc. Harold Hagemann, 48, whose wife and child live in Mauston, who served 25 months in the south Pacific as a military policeman at a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
Pvt. Arnold L. Jobs, 20, son of Mrs. Emil Jobs, veteran of 21 months of service, of which from June 1943 to October 1944 was spent in Iceland.
First Lieut. Warren L. Hasse, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. Louis Hasse, who completed 35 missions as a Flying Fortress bombardier navigator while serving seven months with the Eighth Air Force in England.
Corp. Clifford J. Flentye, 27, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Flentye, a veteran of 32 months in the southwest Pacific.
First Lieut. William R. Holgate, 21, son of Mrs. Roy Holgate, a Flying Fortress pilot who was taken prisoner in Romania after being shot down on his 13th mission and then released at the capitulation of that country.
Apprentice Seaman Robert Loomis, son of the late Gov. Orland and Mrs. Loomis, who has been in the Navy for two years, serving nine months of that time in the southwest Pacific.
First Lieut. Kenneth G. Buglass, 25, son of Mr. and Mrs. G.D. Buglass, a veteran of three years of service, who completed 50 missions as a bomber pilot in the North African and Italian theaters during 12 months of overseas duty.
Ripley Was Around Ensign Burdette Ripley, 26, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Kranz, who entered service in 1939, and went overseas in March 1943, hitting ports in England, Persia, Africa, Sicily, Italy, Australia, Arabia and Ceylon.—
Staff Sgt. Earl Standish, 30, son of Mr. and Mrs. Myron St. Claire, who entered service in October 1940 and spent two and a half years in the southwest Pacific.
Tech Sgt. Joseph A. LaBelle, 30, son of Mr. and Mrs. A.J. LaBelle, who completed 20 missions as engineer-gunner while service for a year with the Air Force is England.
Jack Downing, 20, yeoman third class, son of Mrs. Louis Hale, who entered the Navy in July 1942 and has been in active duty for the past year sailing in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean. He was engaged in the invasions of Sicily and Italy and had one destroyer sunk under him.
— Originally published in the November 6, 1944 editions of The Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.
It would be easy to say that Julius Rudolph Hannemann lived his life with a boom. There were likely many in Washington, D.C. in the 1870s and 1880s who wished he hadn’t created so many of them. As president of the district artillery corps, Maj. Hannemann provided the ceremonial explosive huzzahs at civic events from decoration day to the inauguration of presidents.
Although Hannemann had a distinguished record of service with Union Army units during the Civil War, one senses just a bit of resentment at the noise created by his artillery men. Hannemann commanded the artillery for Decoration Day at Arlington National Cemetery one year. A local newspaper quipped, “All persons residing in the vicinity are advised to have their lives insured.” The article ran under the headline: “The Poisoned Major to the Front.” Another article said he “has broken millions of panes of glass, the peace of the capital, more often than can be computed, by firing cannon.”
On New Year’s Eve 1875, his corps fired a 37-volley salute to the new year in Judiciary Square. According to one news account, “the ammunition for this purpose having been furnished by the War Department.” On September 18, 1880, a platoon fired a 200-gun salute to commemorate the Republican victory in Maine, according to a front-page article in the The Evening Star. In 1879, President Rutherford B. Hayes approved Hannemann’s promotion from second lieutenant to captain. Hannemann was later promoted to major.
Hannemann was struck with apoplexy (possibly a stroke) at the inauguration of President James A. Garfield in early March 1881. It was this condition that eventually took his life on the morning of January 28, 1885. He was just 43 years old. “His death had been expected for some time,” wrote the The Evening Critic. “A well-known and efficient militia officer and a prominent member of the G.A.R. passes to that bourne where military parades are unknown and the weary are at rest.”
Hannemann was born in Prussia in 1842 to a military family. Upon emigrating to the United States, he volunteered for duty in the Civil War on May 17, 1861. He served with the 39th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, known as the “Garibaldi Guard.” He started as a private, but by March 1865, he was a 2nd lieutenant with the 7th New York Infantry Regiment. In June of that year, he was named adjutant of the 7th.
We don’t know of any link between Julius Rudolph Hannemann and the Hanneman family that came from Pomerania to Wisconsin in the 1860s. The major seems to have come from an area in the Kingdom of Saxony, south and west of Pomerania.
By Joe Hanneman MAJ. JOSEPH SMALL III GREW CONCERNED as he peered out the windshield of his U.S. Marine Corps OV-10 Bronco reconnaissance plane, cruising low over enemy territory just inside Kuwait. It was early afternoon, Feb. 25, 1991, the second day of the Allied ground war. It was an all-out assault against Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces, who held the tiny oil-rich nation with an iron grip. But unlike the clear skies on the first day of the ground offensive, the weather had turned ominous.
Small lowered his twin-engine turboprop plane to about 4,500 feet. He was just beneath the low, stormy cloud ceiling and in the midst of thick, sooty smoke from the oil-well fires that scorched the earth below. He didn’t like being this low in a plane that flew only about one-fourth the speed of a U. S. fighter jet. He’d been the target of two Iraqi surface-to-air missiles on a previous mission, but was never low enough to really worry about being hit.
Today was different.
Small and his aerial observer, Marine Corps Capt. David Spellacy, were searching for an Iraqi tank column that had slowed the advance of the 1st Marine Division’s 1st Tank Battalion into southwest Kuwait. They set up a search pattern, and planned to call in air and artillery strikes on the tanks once they found them. While Spellacy surveyed the desert floor below, Small kept “jinking” the plane in erratic movements, hoping to make the aircraft a difficult target for Iraqi gunners.
After a few minutes of searching, they came upon a large, trench complex dug into the sand below. They were close enough to see soldiers moving about on the ground.
SMALL QUICKLY REALIZED HE’D STUMBLED ONTO a hornet’s nest of Iraqi troops, and was flying low enough to get stung. While Spellacy took down target coordinates, Small thought about getting the plane out of there. It was too late.
Screaming from the ground at 5 o’clock, a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile ripped into the right wing, killing Spellacy and crippling the aircraft. “I remember a loud explosion,” Small said. “It felt like a giant hand came out and smacked the airplane, like swatting a fly. I remember a brilliant, white light, coming from somewhere. The airplane was instantly, completely out of control.”
Not knowing Spellacy’s condition, or that the plane’s right wing had been blown off, Small tried to regain control of the craft. It didn’t work. Racing against time, Small pulled the eject handle. Within a second, both men rocketed free of the crippled airplane, 3-5 miles inside enemy territory. “I don’t remember any noise,” Small said. “My next conscious thought was when I was under the parachute.”
Small’s duty in Operation Desert Storm was the first combat assignment for the Racine native and 1975 UW-Parkside graduate. He’d arrived in Saudi Arabia on the first day of the air war, Jan. 17, with Marine Observation Squadron 1 from New River, N.C. Typically, he flew one mission per day. He’d leave the airstrip near the port city of Jubayl each day for a 4-hour flight, mostly patrolling the Kuwait-Saudi border and mapping enemy tank and troop locations.
IT WAS A LONG WAY FROM TINY SYLVANIA AIRPORT in Racine County, where Small fulfilled his dream of earning a pilot’s license on the day he graduated from UW-Parkside in December 1975. During his 17 years in the Corps, he’d flown other dangerous missions. He flew a helicopter on search-and-rescue missions to aid survivors of Hurricane David in the Dominican Republic in 1979. On one mission, his helicopter ended up belly-deep in mud as survivors rushed the craft to get at relief supplies.
He also flew drug interdiction missions in cooperation with the U.S. Customs Service and the Coast Guard in 1987. On one mission, he stumbled onto an air-to-boat drop of drugs, and guided law enforcement to the scene. The dealers were caught and convicted. Another time; another enemy. Now, floating into the hands of the Iraqis, Small pulled his survival radio from his vest and got off a quick mayday, noting his location. Now all he could do was wait to hit the ground.
When he landed, Small tore ligaments in his knee, and suffered a deep cut on his forearm. He laid on the ground, facing up. Within seconds, a dozen Iraqi soldiers were all over him. There was no running. “Evidently, the sound of my aircraft crashing got them out of their holes. Why they didn’t shoot – to this day I don’t know.”
After disarming him and removing his survival vest at gunpoint, the soldiers put Small in a land rover and drove north. A soldier in the front seat had his rifle pointed at Small’s face. A rival group of soldiers in another vehicle tried to run them off the road. Small looked to one of his captors for a clue to what was happening.
“He looked at me and said, ‘They’re crazy. They want to kill you.’ ”
SMALL WAS TAKEN TO AN UNDERGROUND BUNKER complex several miles away. He waited about 45 minutes as the Iraqis figured out what to do with him. One of the soldiers held a cigarette to his mouth for a few puffs. After taking his flight suit and gear, they dragged him up the stairs and stuffed him into another vehicle. This time, the destination was Kuwait City. At a building in the center of the Kuwaiti capital, the soldiers sat Small in the center of a room for another round of interrogation. The cloth strips used to bind his hands dug into his wrists, causing deep lacerations. The beating started off with cuffs to the ears and back of the head. They administered what Small called “a pretty good whooping,” but they never struck him in the face. After being led into another room, he was whipped with what he believed was a fire hose. One soldier hit him in the back of the head so hard it knocked him out cold.
“I figured they were going to beat me, then shoot me,” he said.
Small remembered what he had read about POWs in Vietnam, and how American soldiers answered questions by being vague or telling lies. It was a technique he would use often during his interrogation; a technique he later credited with saving his life. When the Iraqis found his flight map among his belongings and began questioning him about what it meant, Small said he told the “biggest, grandest lie I think I’ve ever told in my entire life.” It worked.
After that session ended, Small was again loaded into a vehicle and driven from Kuwait City to Basra in southern Iraq, headquarters of Saddam’s elite Republican Guard. They traveled up a darkened Highway 6, which would within two days become known as the “Highway of Death,” as Allied pilots destroyed scores of retreating Iraqi vehicles.
During the next interrogation, Small was not beaten, but was threatened with death if he didn’t cooperate. The next morning, Small was put into a car and driven to Baghdad. He was afraid during the daylong drive – afraid that U.S. planes might spot them on the highway and bomb the vehicle. Luckily for him, the weather was bad and no planes were visible. “Again,” Small said, “God was on my side. He kept the weather bad. Had the weather been nicer, I’m sure we wouldn’t have made it.”
SMALL ENDURED ONE LAST ROUND OF QUESTIONING before being sent to a POW prison. Guards who led him to the questioning hit him in the head, and purposely made him walk into walls or trip on the stairs. He was unsure what the Iraqis had in store for him. He had seen the pictures of captured Allied soldiers on CNN, soldiers who’d been beaten bloody and forced to read statements condemning the war. He knew what could happen. Then the questions ended. Small was taken to a dark, cold prison and left in a cell by himself. It had been 30 hours since he was shot down, and the impact of his ordeal caught up with him. He sat in his cell and wept.
He found only restless sleep that night, on a small square of foam padding that served as a bed. The night was interrupted by U.S. air raids that drew loud anti-aircraft fire from inside the prison compound. Having hit rock bottom emotionally, Small sat in his 12-by-12 cell and prayed. It was about the only comfort he’d found since being captured. He was making peace with God. “I figured that was it; I was done.”
Although his cell door had a blanket draped over it to keep him from seeing out, Small on occasion heard muffled whispers from other cells. At one point, he heard his name whispered. Someone must have heard him announce his name to the guards when he came in the night before. In between visits by his captors, Small discovered there were five other Allied pilots in his wing of the prison. Slowly, they exchanged information in whispers. He filled them in on the progress of the war. A couple days later, two more prisoners were brought in. The men worked to keep each others’ spirits up. On occasion, Small’s guard would give him a cigarette. He even brought him some hot tea on evening. “That was a good day,” Small said.
THE FIRST HINT THE WAR WAS OVER was when the bombing stopped. The prisoners heard the report of small arms fire in Baghdad, a traditional Muslim sign of celebration. On the night of March 4, all the prisoners were gathered, put on a bus and driven to another prison in Baghdad. A representative of the Red Crescent (similar to the Red Cross) was taking down everyone’s name. Prisoners were allowed to shave, then were blindfolded.
They were loaded onto a bus, and told they were now in the custody of the International Red Cross. It was finally ending. “That was the first time I really believed it,” Small said. They were put up at a luxury hotel for the night, and treated to hot showers and good food. The next day, they were loaded onto a Swissair plane and took off for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Near Saudi airspace, the commercial jet was joined up by two American F-15 fighters, which flew in tight formation as an escort. The pilots raised their helmet shields and gave a thumbs up. They broke away and were replaced by two British Tornado fighters. Their first official welcome home was a stirring sight for all on board. “It was the happiest day of my life, boy. We let out a whoop.”
When Small descended the steps at the Riyadh airfield, U.S. Army Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the Allied commander, was waiting to greet the POWs. The big, burly four-star general had tears streaming down his face.
AFTER A CHECKUP ABOARD A U.S. HOSPITAL SHIP near Bahrain, Small and his comrades flew a VIP plane to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Waiting there were thousands of people, including his wife, Leanne, their children Lauren, 10, and Michael, 8, his son, David, 17, and his parents, Joe and Dolores Small of Racine.
Despite his valor and bravery, Small refuses to call himself a hero. And it’s not just modesty. He says many other soldiers have withstood much worse than he, including Vietnam POWs who didn’t come home to the adulation of the American public. That’s a message he’s carried to dozens of speaking engagements since the war ended. He’s also had difficulty dealing with the death of Spellacy – known as “Hank” in his unit – who left behind a wife and three young children. Small described his partner that day as the “greatest guy you’d ever want to know.”
Small has experienced “survivor guilt” and wondered if there’s anything he might have done to change the outcome. He knows there are no answers. “He was sitting three feet behind me. He got hit and I didn’t. God had something for me to do and God had something for Hank to do.”
Small, 41, was stationed in Florida after the war, training future Navy and Marine pilots at Pensacola Naval Air Station. (He retired from the Corps in early 1994 and started life as a civilian.) Small hopes his POW experience and willingness to talk about it will one day help some future soldier survive imprisonment in an enemy camp.
“If I can have some influence at some time on someone who may go through this 10, 15, 20 years from now … that’s what’s going to make it all worthwhile.” ♦
This story originally appeared in the Spring 1993 issue of Perspective magazine at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside
United States Marine Cpl. Almeron A. Freeman was scheduled to finish his three-year military service in just a matter of months. After nearly 1½ years in Korea with the 1st Marine Division, Freeman was headed for California aboard a U.S. Navy transport in March 1955. He never made it home. The Douglas R6D airplane slammed into a mountain peak on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. All 66 aboard were killed.
My father, David D. Hanneman, played football with Freeman at Mauston High School. Although Freeman was a year behind Dad in school, he was the same age. Freeman played left guard and wore No. 64 during the 1950 season. Dad played left tackle and wore No. 66. They were both muscular and athletic. Freeman’s death left a deep impression on Dad. In 2006, when planning the Mauston High School Class of 1951’s 55th reunion, Dad made sure Freeman’s photo was included in the program.
Freeman enlisted in the Marine Corps on August 27, 1952, directly after his graduation from Mauston High School. He was an infantry rifleman with the First Marine Division. He landed for duty in Korea just four months after an armistice ended Korean War combat and began a tense “peace” along the 38th Parallel.
At the end of his tour, he flew from South Korea to Tokyo, then to Hickam Field on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Just after 6 p.m. on March 21, 1955, Freeman was onboard a U.S. Navy R6D transport that left Hickam for Travis Air Force Base in California. Some 3½ hours into the flight, the plane developed radio problems and turned back for Oahu. Just after 2 a.m. on March 22, the plane was seen roaring low over the Navy’s Lualualei ammunition depot. Marine Pfc. Joseph T. Price, on guard duty at Lualualei, said the pilot turned on the landing lights and discovered the plane was headed straight into the Wai’ane Mountains. At the last second, the plane made a hard right, but slammed into the mountain about 200 feet below the tip of Pali Kea Peak. The explosion “lit up like daylight for about a minute,” Price said.
The resulting fire was so hot that it took rescuers nearly two hours to get close enough to confirm there were no survivors. The 66 killed included nine Navy crewmen and 57 passengers: 17 U.S. Air Force, four Navy, 12 Marines, 22 U.S. Army and two civilians (a mother and her baby daughter). It was the worst air disaster in Hawaii’s history. The U.S. Military Air Transportation System, which operated the flight, had flown 1.12 million passengers and crossed the Pacific nearly 42,000 times between January 1951 and March 1955 with no fatalities. The crash was caused by crew error. The plane was 8 miles off course when it struck the mountain.
Almeron Arthur Freeman was born February 3, 1933 in Dresbach Township, Minnesota, the son of Irvin M. Freeman and the former Lilah Jenks. Prior to 1940, the family moved from Houston County, Minnesota to Mauston. Irvin worked as a service station attendant. In addition to being a starting guard on the football team, Almeron was a member of the highly rated Mauston boxing team.
He came from a proud family military tradition. His great-grandfather and namesake, Almeron Augustus Freeman, served in the Civil War with the 1st Independent Battery, Wisconsin Light Artillery. The battery served under General William Tecumseh Sherman and General Ulysses S. Grant at the battle of Vicksburg, the battle of Port Gibson and later in defense of New Orleans. The elder Freeman later married and became a river pilot moving lumber on the waterways of Wisconsin.
Marine Cpl. Freeman was buried May 17, 1955 at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Due to the nature of the crash and fire, the remains of 40 service members were buried in a group grave site containing nine caskets. A memorial service for Freeman was held at Mauston High School on May 15, 1955.
The tragedy of the March 1955 air crash extended beyond the immediate victims and their families. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marion “Billy” Shackleford was scheduled to be on that flight, but because he forgot his travel papers, he was denied boarding. He was spared the fate of the 66 crash victims and returned home to Alabama to report for a new assignment. On April 19, 1955, the car he was driving was hit head-on by a Trailways Bus. He was killed instantly. His father, working on a nearby construction job, witnessed the accident. Like Freeman, Sgt. Shackleford was the great-grandson of a Civil War veteran.
Milwaukee was a key industrial production hub during World War II, and there was concern that spies or saboteurs would attack defense contractors or the public utilities that supplied them with power. As a master mechanic at Wisconsin Electric’s huge Lakeside Power Plant in St. Francis, Earl J. Mulqueen Sr. worked under tight security to ensure the war effort continued uninterrupted.
Nicknamed “The Governor,” Mulqueen was well known around his home in Cudahy as a Mr. Fixit. Whenever the boiler would go out at St. Frederick’s Catholic Church or school, they would call the Governor to come over and get things working again. When World War II broke out in late 1941, Mulqueen was just starting his third decade working for Wisconsin Electric. He put his mechanical skills to work keeping the turbines and other equipment at Lakeside in good working order.
Signs on and around the Lakeside plant carried a warning: “National Defense Premises. No Entry.” Armed agents guarded the plant 24 hours a day — part of a force of more than 1,000 men providing security at Wisconsin power utilities during the war. Because of his key role in keeping Lakeside in operation, Mulqueen received his own security protection. He often stayed at the plant for long stretches. When he came home to fetch clean clothes and pay a quick visit, he was accompanied by FBI agents. On occasion, an agent came alone to pick up clothes or other supplies for Mulqueen.
The security precautions were warranted. Milwaukee factories were converted to war production of artillery, fuel storage, engines, turbines and all sorts of mechanical parts. The build-up created huge demand for power. The nation could ill afford an attack that shut down a key plant like Lakeside. Even before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wisconsin Electric officials expressed security concerns, and fears the Lakeside power plant could be attacked with explosives by boat from Lake Michigan.
Nazi Germany launched just such a plan when it landed eight special agents on the shores of New York and Florida in June 1942. The German agents carried explosives and were tasked with blowing up U.S. defense industries and terrorizing population centers. “They came to maim and kill,” said FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Codenamed Operation Pastorius, the plot was foiled when one of the saboteurs turned himself in to the FBI. Federal agents arrested the men and recovered high explosives disguised as pieces of coal.
Such an attack could have been devastating. Manufacturers like Allis-Chalmers, Falk Corp., Ladish, Bucyrus Erie, Case, Heil Co. and many others produced components and finished goods for the U.S. military. Everything from engines, to fuel trailers, to cargo and transport ships were built in eastern Wisconsin during the war. Wisconsin utilities scrambled to add generating capacity to keep up. Opened in 1920, Lakeside carried the burden of power supply as the other generation plants were being built.
Mulqueen left his job as a machinist at the Case plow works in Racine in February 1920 to work for the Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co. (later called Wisconsin Electric) as a machinist helper in the utility’s Racine operations. In November of that year, he married Margaret Madonna Dailey at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Racine. A former teacher, Miss Dailey had graduated in June 1920 from Northwestern University. Earl worked in Racine until 1925, when he was transferred to the Lakeside Power Plant. The Mulqueen family then moved to Cudahy. The couple had 11 children; six of whom served in the U.S. military.