Herald JournalHerald Journal, Nov. 10, 2003

WWII experience different for three local veterans

By Joe Kieser

Just by chance three Winsted men met for a brief moment at Camp Roberts California. This story is about how they went to different parts of the world for WWII.

Fred "Fritz" Entinger was born April 18, 1917 in Trego Wisconsin. He is the son of Peter and Frances Entinger.

As a young boy he helped his family on their potato farm by Earl Wisconsin. Many hours were spent driving the team of horses that plowed the long potato rows.

The 12 mile round trip to school in Spring Brook Township via a wagon in summer and sled in winter was enjoyed with his sister Kate and brothers Andy and Louis.

In 1927 his dad passed away, so they left the farm and moved to Winsted. Peter had owned the hardware store there previously and they were glad to be with family and friends.

At the age of 14 he started working on the farms of Adalbert Brose, Al and Frank Gueningsman, Ray Hecksel, and Jim Baird. In October 1941 he headed his 1935 Chevy west to Los Angeles Calif. Work was found making flower pots, X-ray machines and aircraft parts.

He was inducted into the Army April 21, 1942. Within the next year his brothers Andy and Louis were also called to active duty.

Fritz was stationed at Camp Roberts, Calif, Fort Lewis Washington, Charleston, SC and New Port News, Va. His first ocean voyage was the 58-day trip through the Panama Canal and on to Brisbane Australia. Food at the Ascot Race Course consisted of a loaf of bread and a half a pound of butter.

The war was progressing rapidly as they boarded the all wooden Dutch freight boat and headed to New Guinea. They joined a fleet of three ships to Mindanao Island in the Philippines.

The next adventure was Luzon Island by Manila, which was their home until the 33-day ship ride back to California. Fritz was discharged Sept. 21, 1945 at Camp McCoy Wis. His decorations included the Asiatic Bronze Star and Good Conduct Metal.

Floyd Weibel was the son of Paul and Ellen Weibel. He was born Dec. 1, 1919 in Winsted. He attended the local school and drove truck for Pure Milk before entering the service.

He was inducted into the Army March 16, 1942, at Fort Snelling. He took his basic training at Camp Roberts Calif.

He attained "Sharpshooter" with his rifle, and also was a "First Class Gunner." Camp Roberts is also where he had his first experience driving a tank.

As soon as basic training was over he was shipped out to Germany. The inside of a tank with the 807 tank division was his home for several years. His abilities as a tank driver and gunner in the many battles were second to none.

He became friends with a German lady. She was sick and he nursed her back to health. His meager meals of soup and bread were shared with her whenever he could.

Floyd was discharged at Camp Hood Texas Oct. 31, 1945. Eight of his brothers also served in our armed force. He was awarded the American Service, WWII Victory, Overseas Service, European, African and Middle Eastern Medals with two bronze battle stars and also the Good Conduct medal.

George Knott was born Nov. 7, 1918 on a farm south east of Winsted. He is the son of John and Mary Knott. His duties as a young lad consisted of milking cows by hand and general farm work.

He graduated from Holy Trinity High School and also worked for Axel Anderson at the IGA Store.

He was invited by Uncle Sam at Fort Snelling on March 16, 1942. A long train ride soon delivered him to Camp Roberts, Calif.

After basic training he was put aboard an old English freighter and headed to Hawaii. The boat leaked so bad that a foot of water was common on the latrine floor.

Fourteen days later they docked in Honolulu. Ten months were spent guarding the harbors with the 145th Field Artillery Battery "A". Somehow he became friends with the commanding officer and got to drive the lead vehicle in the convoy.

Soon it was off to Kwaja Lein Island south west of Hawaii. This whole trip was in a LST boat. When they would hit a wave the boat would flex in sections. All you could do was pray that the boat would not break in two, he said.

Then, on to Saipan in the Mariana Islands. After spending several weeks there, they went on a night landing of Tinian Island. The battle with the Japanese to overtake the island was fierce.

The Philippines was next on the agenda. George had volunteered to unload the big ship they were traveling on. Twelve Japanese planes soon attacked the ship. Manning the 50 caliber machine guns, they shot down all the planes.

Okinawa became his home for a long period of time. The night skies of Sept. 2, 1945 were lit up. Everyone ran for cover because they feared they were under attack. The Japanese had signed the terms of surrender and all would soon be heading for home.

Discharge came at Camp McCoy Wisconsin Oct. 31, 1945. On the first night home, George was viewing the sights of Hennepin Avenue with a couple of his buddies when a car backfired in the distance and they dropped to the sidewalk. The war had taken its toll on both mind and body.

The years following the war, Fritz worked for Saint Paul Hydraulic Hoist for four years and Millerbernd Manufacturing as a shop foreman for 34 years. George worked in maintenance for Pure Milk and drove milk route for Herb Kubasch. He then was a purchasing agent for Sterner Industries for 17 years.

Floyd was a truck driver for Floyd Graupman and Lesters, Inc. There were few families in Winsted that did not enjoy his home delivery of milk and dairy products.

Fritz and George are enjoying their years in retirement. Floyd is no longer with us, but be assured that the bicycles of heaven are in good repair.

The freedoms we cherish today are the direct result of the battles won by our armed forces. Let us all appreciate every one of our Veterans Nov. 11.

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