Our World War II Heroes
World War II ended in the European Theatre with an unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on May 9, 1945.
The Pacific Theatre ended August 15, 1945 with the unconditional surrender of Japan.
The U.S. needed to start reconstruction of the defeated countries. We learned from the first world war that we couldn’t just leave.
The aftermath of the European theatre left 25 million people starving to death. Harry Truman, our new president due to Roosevelt’s death in April 1945, appointed former President Herbert Hoover, who was a logistics officer during WWI to head up the relief. Later, the Marshall Plan divided Germany into four occupation zones going forward.
General Douglas MacArthur headed up the Japanese occupation and reconstruction from 1945 to 1952. He had to deal with the Japanese colonies of Korea and Taiwan. He then enacted three phases for Japan: punish and reform; revive the economy; and finally, a formal peace treaty and alliance.
Years later, we can look back knowing we did the right thing.
Many of us drive by here every day not thinking about the stories of all of the men and women that have been laid to rest here. The Shawano County Historical Society, in its headstones series, have already brought you the stories of our Civil War and WWI veterans, tonight we will continue with stories of the veterans of WWII.
This was a different war, this was a needed war. In previous wars, our country asked all counties to put together a company of men to serve in our military, Shawano County was company F, only to find out that if they went into battle together, hundreds of men from the same community of family could be wiped out. so WWII was different, every county draft board was responsible for a quota of recruits, but this time they were spread out in different branches of service and divisions of the military so one community wouldn’t be devastated with casualties from the war.
When the war started in Europe in September of 1939, there was a lot of antiwar sentiment in the USA. Our country had not yet entered the war, had been through a tough depression and didn’t feel like sending its young men overseas again. Our military wasn’t much then either, only 174,000 men equipped with obsolete weapons, including Springfield rifles dated to 1903. we were not ready. Little did we know that everything would change on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
When the war ended, over 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries would participate. Major participants, like the United States threw in their entire economic, industrial and scientific capabilities behind the war effort. Make no mistake, when we were attacked, every American backed the war, we were needed and we needed to win!
Today you will hear about two Shawano veterans that fought in the European Theatre, two that fought in the Pacific Theatre; and one navy nurse that would be stationed at Great Lakes Naval Hospital, taking care of the wounded men that were shipped back home.
In each theatre, one returned and one didn’t, giving the ultimate sacrifice. Our two vets in the Pacific Theatre actually joined the war effort before the USA officially declared war, joining the American volunteer group. We know them as the flying tigers! This group was activated from April 1941 to July 1942.
SHAWANO COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND SHAWANO PARK & REC PRESENT:
HONORING OUR WWII VETERANS
Veterans being honored:
FRITZ WOLF – Commander, Navy pilot, member of the Flying Tigers AVG, dive bomber, Ace, flew the P-40 Warhawk and Grumman F6F Hellcat.
WAYNE WINANS – 1ST LT, Army 101st Airborne, killed in action September 20, 1944, Holland.
WILMER ZEUSKE – Set Army Air Corp, member of the Flying Tigers AVG, gunner on board of B-25 Mitchell bomber, killed over Burma June 3, 1942.
BERNARD (MICK) TOUSEY – Mstr Set, head airplane mechanic, awarded Bronze Star, served In the European, African and middle eastern theatres.
PRICILLA DRUCKREY RITTER – Ensign, Navy registered nurse stationed at Great Lakes Naval Hospital, attending wounded soldiers of the war.