Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.
<p>World War II veterans, who were part of the Normandy Invasion, view "their" horse, Normandy Invasion at the backside of Churchill Downs Friday, May 3, 2013 in Louisville. From left, Ray Woods, Rick Porter (owner of Normandy Invasion,) Ray Woods, Alan Reeves, J. J. Witmeyer, and Chad Brown, trainer of Normandy Invasion. (AP Photo/The Courier-Journal, Bill Luster) NO SALES; MAGS OUT; NO ARCHIVE; MANDATORY CREDIT</p>
LEIPSIC — Ray Woods, a long-term Ottawa resident now living in Leipsic, was sitting in Millionaire Row during the Kentucky Derby. He was rooting for a horse named Normandy Invasion.
Woods was one of four World War II veterans who were guests of the owner of the horse, Rick Porter, an ex-soldier who has been naming horses to honor veterans.
“I got the invitation only a few days before the Kentucky Derby,” Woods said.
Rick Montgomery, who coordinates WWII re-enactments, called Woods and said, “Have I got a deal for you.”
Woods had attended one of Montgomery’s re-enactments a year ago and had been asked to speak at the event as a WWII veteran. Also speaking at that event was Bill Wilch, who, like Woods, had been part of the D-Day invasion. Both men were offered a three-day all-expenses-paid trip to the Kentucky Derby.
“I made a few calls and made arrangements to travel to Louisville for the race with Wilch’s son driving us,” Woods said.
Upon their arrival the two men met two other veterans who were also guests of Porter.
On Friday, Woods and the other three veterans got to meet the horse Normandy Invasion.
“He’s a beautiful horse,” Woods said.
During the meeting, Woods said there was a lot of media present to cover the event.
The day of the race, the veterans were picked up in a van at their hotel and given a police and sheriff’ escort to the front doors at the race track.
“There are 113,000 people who attend, so there was a lot of traffic. That escort got us through quickly. Then they had wheelchairs waiting for us.”
The veterans were taken to “Millionaire’s Row” at the Kentucky Derby.
“It was a beautiful room,” Woods said.
He said there were tables of eight in the room. Woods said his arm band indicated the ticket for that seat cost $804. A glass window overlooked the track. On one side of the room were betting booths. There were also two huge buffets in the room.
Woods said he watched the race from the window. He was excited when Normandy Invasion almost won the race.
“But then he was nosed out at the last by three other horses,” Woods said.
Woods served as a radar man on the USS O’Brien during World War II. His boat was not scheduled to hit Omaha Beach until the next day after D-Day.
“But my skipper heard what was happening and after we dropped troops off at Utah Beach he sped straight over.” Woods said.
Woods said he believes it was the action of their boat that made the difference that day. The USS O’Brien began firing at the cliff where the Germans were located, taking out the communication end first, and then knocking out the row of German gun tunnels along the cliff.
Woods has written a book about the event titled “D-Day Hero Destroyer Identified after 68 Year Search.”
He gave his first copy to the owner of Normandy Invasion.
Woods said while he enjoyed meeting the horse named after the D-Day event, he most enjoyed reminiscing about D-Day with fellow veterans.
Just recently he received a letter from Porter along with papers indicating he had purchased and named one of his horses USS O’Brien
“Porter said he named four of his fillies after the four of us,” Woods said. “That is quite an honor.”
Survival was a matter of luck and location. When the Australian carrier HMAS Melbourne (R 21) collided with and cut in two the USS Frank E. Evans (DD 754) nearly 44 years ago in the dead-calm, moonlit waters of the South China Sea, Dean Wyse survived. Lima native Larry Allan Gracely did not.
Wyse, then a 24-year-old fire control technician from West Unity, was in the aft portion of the Evans. Gracely, a sonar technician, and the 73 other sailors who perished were forward. The aft section of the destroyer remained afloat after the collision; the forward section sank within minutes. Of the five Ohio natives on the Evans, only Wyse survived. In all, 199 members of the ship’s crew survived.
Now 69 and semi-retired in Maricopa, Ariz., Wyse and the members of the USS Frank E. Evans Association believe the names of the “Lost 74” should be on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The association’s requests for inclusion of the names have been denied by the Department of Defense because, when the collision occurred at 3:15 a.m. June 3, 1969, the Evans was not within the geographically designated war zone.
The Evans, which departed Long Beach, Calif., for Vietnam on March 29, 1969, had been in the combat zone before being detached to take part in Operation Sea Spirit, an exercise with allied ships including the Melbourne. The Evans association believes it was probably headed back to Vietnam after Sea Spirit to again provide naval gunfire support. The collision occurred about 200 miles off the coast of Vietnam.
“Our guys were eligible for the Vietnam Service Medal at the time of the collision,” Wyse said, adding the criteria for the medal are the same as those for inclusion on the memorial.
Wyse said he was not a “real close friend” of Gracely, a 1965 graduate of Shawnee High School, but “on a smaller ship, people from each state find each other.” Gracely had attended Bowling Green State University before enlisting in the Navy. According to the association’s biography of Gracely, the 22-year-old was engaged and planned to marry when he returned to the United States.
Wyse said the morning of the collision he was scheduled to stand mid-watch (midnight to 4 a.m.) in the forward portion of the ship but the watch was canceled when the ship’s state of readiness was eased. Wyse was asleep when the collision occurred.
The Melbourne struck the Evans with such force that a sailor standing watch on the Evans was thrown onto the flight deck of the carrier. Wyse said the impact threw him out of his bunk. “I landed 25 or 30 feet away. Our ship had taken a roll of nearly 90 degrees,” he said.
“Lucky for me, when the ship split in half, the aft section came back up,” Wyse said. “We ended up touching the Melbourne.” Wyse said he climbed to a deck even with the catch net around the Melbourne’s flight deck and scrambled onto the carrier.
When the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated 31 years ago, Wyse said he assumed the names of the “Lost 74” were among the more than 58,000 inscribed on it but found out otherwise when the father of one of the lost sailors went looking for his son’s name. “He’s the one who really got it started,” Wyse said.
On April 29, Wyse wrote Ohio Congressman Brad Wenstrup, a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee, seeking support.
“Put simply,” Wyse wrote, “the 74 names are not on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall because the collision occurred outside the ‘Combat Zone’ as interpreted by the Department of Defense. Through the years, many additions to the Vietnam Memorial Wall have been made ‘by exception.’ We strongly believe the Department of Defense should provide an exception in our case.”
Wyse said he has not yet heard from Wenstrup.
LIMA — A Lima man and Vietnam War veteran will be inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame next month.
Jerry Chiles entered the Marine Corps with three friends after he graduated from Lima Senior High School in 1967.
The service the Military Hall of Fame plans to highlight events that led him to earn a Bronze Star.
In August 1969, Vietnamese forces came into an outpost position with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and explosive devices. The corporal moved across the area, despite the danger, toward a gun position that had been captured, and began shooting at them. He then found a fellow Marine who had been injured, administered first aid and carried him to safety.
“It’s something I never even thought about; I just did it by instinct,” Chiles said.
“Throughout the firefight, he repeatedly disregarded his own safety to gain vantage points from which to direct fire against the enemy,” the Ohio Military Hall of Fame wrote in a prepared statement. “His heroic actions inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in thwarting the enemy’s attempt to overrun the friendly position. Corporal Chiles’s courage, bold initiative, and unwavering devotion to duty at great personal risk were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.”
A close friend of his, Louis T. Hazzard, known as Tim to friends, was killed shortly after arriving in Vietnam. Chiles said he thinks of Hazzard often. Chiles’ 21-year-old grandson, Tim Chiles, was named after him.
Chiles works as a Department of the Army police watch commander at the the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center. He previously worked security at Ford Motor Co. and as a funeral escort at the Allen County Sheriff’s Office.
The induction ceremony for the Ohio Military Hall of Fame begins at 11:30 a.m. May 3 at the State House atrium in Columbus. He will be inducted along with about 30 others from across the state.
For information, go to www.ohioheroes.org.
ELIDA — Elida resident Mark Frick didn’t serve in one branch of the military, but two.
Upon graduating from Lima Senior High School in 1958, he enlisted in the Army along with four other classmates: Jerry Reinock, Fred Briggs, Pat Fairhurst and Greg Sharp.
“I don’t really know exactly how it was decided. I suppose each one of us had a different reason, but five of us that knew each other when we graduated from high school, we enlisted for Armored Europe. In other words, enlisted for armor, which is tanks. … They let the five of us go overseas to Germany.”
The five stayed together through basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia, and through most of advanced tank training in Fort Knox, Ky. Frick was stationed in Bad Kissingen, Germany, a place that was known for its mineral water and is still known for its health resorts. He was serving in the 14th Armored Cavalry Regimen, and then he was transferred to border duty.
For about two years, Frick primarily patrolled no man’s land between East and West Germany.
“We were on the West German side, and then of course, there was the East Germans and the Russians on the other side,” he said. “They had a big fence along the border, and then there was no man’s land about three miles on each side of this fence. We patrolled one side and the East Germans patrolled the other side.”
The Berlin Wall also separated the two countries, physically and otherwise. Although he didn’t serve alongside his old classmates, he was sure to catch up with them while he was in Germany.
“I did see the other guys who were stationed at different places at different times we would get together. Three out of the five of us married German girls and came back to the states,” he said, himself included. Frick later remarried.
Five years after returning to the United States, after working various jobs, he decided to enlist in the Navy at age 24. He studied aviation electronics.
Frick then traveled the world, going through places like Cuba and Brazil while aboard the USS Forrestal. They were going to stop in South Africa as well, but apartheid was so bad at the time it prevented them.
The USS Forrestal was later supposed to be engaged in combat operations in the Gulf of Tonkin near Vietnam. But shortly after arriving, a historic fire broke out on July 29, 1967, that killed 134 sailors and injured 161 people. It was the worst U.S. carrier fire since World War II. It was particularly dangerous because of the jet fuel in all of the planes and the missiles that were held on the carrier. At any given moment, the fire could set off a chain-reaction of explosions.
“I thought half the ship was exploding,” Frick said. “I didn’t know whether I was going to live or die while I was on this aircraft carrier. I can’t explain this to you, but of all the servicemen and all the wars, and all the places, you don’t want to die away from home. There’s something about dying in the foreign land or at sea. … It’s like something that is lonely. You want to die with your loved ones.”
Paging through a memorabilia book, he showed vivid pictures of the fire, and the dark plumes of smoke that hung over the carrier. The carrier was large enough, roughly three football fields long, that his side of the carrier wasn’t affected by the fire all that much. Still, he remembers being on the flight deck, pushing missiles and planes into the water.
“They were throwing bombs over the side because they didn’t want these bombs to explode,” Frick said.
He also wore a life jacket just in case the fires were bad enough that he’d want to jump off the side. He didn’t jump. The damage to the carrier alone was about $72 million, equivalent to more than $500 million today.
Another memory that stayed with Frick during that time was men who died. Their bodies piled up on the carrier over a few days. They were kept in bags near where everyone ate until they could be transferred. Frick said he will never forget the smell.
U.S. Sen. and presidential candidate John McCain was also aboard the USS Forrestal during the fire.
Frick served in the Navy for about four years. After returning, he worked for the Ford Plant for 35 years. He is retired.
Frick said he’s stayed in touch with the men who served in the Army over the years, through events like class reunions. Some of them have now died. However, he’s looking forward to the next reunion.
“This summer will be my 55th high school class reunion,” he said.
While serving in the military changed his life, he said events that have occurred while living at home have shaped him, too.
“My life is stranger than fiction,” he said. “There’s a lot more that’s happened to me in civilian life than happened to me in the service.”
<p>World War II Veteran, Ninety year-old Chuck Houtz, discusses his experiences in the military during a visit to his daughters home on Friday afternoon. Amanda Wilson -The Lima News</p>
Charles Houtz has done a lot of living since he was reported dead during World War II.
Houtz was a young soldier in C Company of the Army’s 52nd Engineer Battalion in the Pacific Theater when a soldier who had taken some of Houtz’s clothing and helmet was killed. The items were marked with Houtz’s serial number and, because he lacked any other identification, the man was identified as Houtz and buried. By the time the mistake was cleared up, Houtz’s parents had started selling his possessions.
Seven decades later, Houtz is very much alive, full of life and memories of his days in the Army and the men with whom he served. He celebrates his 90th birthday Tuesday.
Houtz was born in Lima in 1923 at City Hospital, which stood roughly on the site now occupied by Lima Senior High School. He worked at the Lima Locomotive Works making tanks before entering the Army in 1943.
“I was a combat engineer. We made beach landings. We got shot at and all that stuff,” Houtz said, adding with a laugh, “They just couldn’t hit us.”
Combat engineers perform a variety of construction and demolition tasks under combat conditions. Houtz’s task was as a heavy machine gunner, acting as a protector for the other members of his company.
And Houtz is proud he did his job well. “My buddies all survived,” he said. “It was my job to see that they stayed alive. I would protect them while they were working. Do what was necessary.” There were about 138 men in his company, Houtz said.
“I was good at my job and, for some reason or another, I had good night vision so I spent a lot of time guarding at night,” he said. “I must be crazy, because I wasn’t scared. I felt like I had someone covering me.”
Of the handful of beach landings Houtz made during 18 months in the Pacific, the first is the one that sticks out.
“Angaur,” Houtz said, “especially Angaur. We were there when the Marines got wiped out on Peleliu.” The battle of Angaur Island, which occurred just before the more famous fight for Peleliu Island six miles away, took place in September and October 1944. It was one of the few battles in the Pacific where U.S. casualties outnumbered those of the Japanese.
After Angaur, Houtz’s company went to a rest area. “We were all about dead,” Houtz said. “We suffered from malnutrition and all that kind of stuff … they fed us vitamin pills” and pills for malaria.
“They fed us up and then sent us to the Philippines,” he said.
Immediately after the Japanese surrender, Houtz’s outfit was sent to help occupy Japan.
“We went in there not knowing what to expect,” he said. “They never let you know.”
Houtz remembers seeing the guns in the port of Yokohama covered by white sheets immediately after the surrender. After three or four months in Japan, Houtz returned to the United States. He remembers looking out over San Francisco on New Year’s Day 1946.
“When I got back, they put me in the Reserves. You more or less had to be. Then I went in the National Guard. I went up to staff sergeant. I cut out of the National Guard when it wasn’t the National Guard anymore, when they sent them overseas,” Houtz said.
After the war, Houtz returned to Lima. He retired from Clark Equipment after 40 years and has for the past decade or so lived in Logan, returning to the area for birthday celebrations and to visit family. He also travels to annual July reunions with his Army buddies, although time has cut their numbers, something the Japanese couldn’t do under Houtz’s watch.
“I miss my old buddies,” Houtz said. “We were all 18, 19 years old. We more or less grew up together. It was like family.”
Craig J. Orosz/The Lima News
<p>Lima business owneer Ray Magnus is photographed in uniform in 2013. At left is a 1976 photograph of Sgt. Ray Magnus before Magnus went to air assault school.</p>
LIMA — Ray Magnus’ tour of duty in Vietnam as an Army paratrooper lasted nine months. After being severely wounded while on patrol, Magnus was airlifted out of the southeast Asian nation. Now, 43 years later, Magnus is going back.
Until recently, the former Lima City councilman and local businessman hadn’t considered returning to Vietnam. Now, he knows he won’t be at peace unless he does.
“I didn’t think about it for a long time. When I first got back, being 19 years old and severely wounded you didn’t really think about going back at the young of an age,” Magnus said. “As I got older and things changed, I started thinking about it. I’ve been watching some shows on TV about Vietnam, and I saw one they showed my unit in a battle in the A Shau Valley, and I saw a soldier that looked like me. It could have been, I was in that battle. From that point on, I’ve wanted to go back. It’s been the last year or so.”
Magnus, 63, said going back is one of those things he wants to check off his bucket list. Heading back to the A Shau Valley, back to the spot where he was wounded, is high on his wish list for the trip.
“I can see the spot where I got wounded,” he said. “I can draw you a picture of the way it was Feb. 16, 1970, and it would be accurate as heck. I’m going to try to find that actual spot if at all possible.”
Part of his motivation is to leave the country on his own terms this time.
“I worked with a five-man ambush team. We did roving ambushes, roving patrols, search and destroy, and we were out one night on a roving patrol in the mountains about 10 to 15 klicks from the Red China Sea, and on the way back the next morning that’s when we got hit and I was wounded,” Magnus said. “When they finally got some support to us and got the medevac helicopter in and they had me in the line carrying me to the helicopter, I looked back and I could see my blood dripping on the ground. That’s the reason I want to go back.”
Magnus said though the trip is planned for two weeks, he may decide to stay only two days or he may extend his trip. It will depend, he said, on the emotions he feels once he finally has returned.
“Until I’m actually there, I don’t know what the emotions are going to be,” Magnus said. “All I know is when I left there I left under extremely difficult circumstances. I couldn’t walk. I was severely wounded.
“I’ve had several people have asked, ‘Ray, why do you want to go back?’ I give everybody the same answer: I don’t know. I just know I have to go.”
WAPAKONETA — Anyone who knew him will tell you Ed Doseck was a proud American.
“He was the kind of guy that would wear his World War II veteran ball cap everywhere he went,” Glenn Doseck, Ed’s son, said nostalgically. “He always had a flag with him. Those colors stood for something to him.”
Ed Doseck, 85, died Dec. 12, but his patriotic spirit and his service as a Navy gunner in the South Pacific are forever remembered.
“Oh heavens, he was just a great American,” said Ed’s sister, Alice “Allie” Kuhlman. “We had so many discussions about the war the past few years. We were together on a trip to Washington, D.C., and it was very emotional for both of us. He worried so much about our country and where it was headed. Now he can rest and not worry anymore.”
Doseck was 18 when entered the Navy in 1943. He graduated from Blume High School in Wapakoneta, where he was born and raised.
He served on the USS Howard F. Clark, a destroyer escort in the waters of the South Pacific. Kuhlman saved a letter Doseck wrote home while serving. It includes great descriptions of what the young sailor was experiencing.
Dated Tuesday, April 3, 1945, the letter starts off greeting his parents and letting them know he was doing fine.
“It’s rather hot out today. You just sit still and the sweat runs off you. I went on liberty today on one of the islands out there, ‘The Carolina,’” the letter reads. “About all you can do is sit and look at the coconut trees and swim. I guess we are allowed to tell where we have been, as long as it’s over 30 days old.”
Mentioning he’d been to places like Manus and Leyete, Doseck described the warfare landscape.
“There wasn’t much there, but it’s something to remember,” he wrote. “You’re probably wondering if I was at Luzon. Yes, I was. We got two Jap planes to our credit.”
Doseck was referring to the March, 1945, Battle of Luzon in the Philippines, which resulted in an Allied victory.
He continued: “It was rough as the devil around the China Sea and the Philippines. I hope you can make out the names of those islands,” he said.
“Dad, one thing you can tell some of the boys around home is that you have a son who is doing his share. I’ll tell you more as soon as we can,” Doseck wrote. “Mom, tell Alice and Carolyn as soon as I get back around Honolulu, I’ll send them a grass skirt, but I don’t know how long that will be. Hawaii is sure a nice place. I would almost like to live there after the war, but there’s no place like home. “
Glenn Doseck said that was his father’s nature: family-oriented. Ed Doseck married Jean Maxine Hartman on Dec. 19, 1945, while he was on leave — to begin his own family before returning to Japan.
“I haven’t received that picture of Alice yet. I would like to have some of the old pictures we have around home,” he wrote. “It would be darn nice to sit down and look at them. Last year at the time, I was on my way home, remember? Well, I can’t think of much more to say, except that I would like to see all of you.”
Glenn Doseck said his father proudly displayed his veteran status but never really talked about what happened in the war.
“He always voted. He supported his political party that he backed very strongly,” Glenn Doseck said. “But he never shared his military stories with me. He was tight-lipped about them. I’m not sure if there were things that happened that he wasn’t willing to share, but he never really talked about them.”
Ed Doseck was discharged in April 1946 and began married life with Hartman. They had two sons, Glenn and Mike, and a daughter, Susan.
After his time in the Navy, Ed Doseck was employed by Fisher Cheese in Wapakoneta as a dairyman. After that, he served as a sanitarian for Allen, Auglaize and Shelby County health departments.
He remained active in the community: a member of First English Lutheran Church, American Legion and the Hammer Lodge 167 Free & Accepted Masons. He was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8445.
<p>World War II veteran Bob Schnerre talks about his time serving in the European theatre at his home in St. Mary's last week. Jay Sowers - The Lima News</p>
LIMA — Bob Schnerre was a junior in high school when he was called to serve in the Army during World War II.
Schnerre, now 85 and living in St. Marys, joined the military at 18 in 1945, the day Germany surrendered in the war. He went to infantry training in South Carolina and a few days before he was to be deployed to Japan, they surrendered.
“I was to report the same day Germany surrendered. I’ve always said the Germans heard I was coming, so they quit,” he said, laughing. “We were shipping out on Saturday morning and Japan surrendered on Thursday. And Japan heard I was coming, so they quit.”
Infantry training was intense for him. He was in South Carolina in July learning bayonet training, where it was “90 degrees in the shade and 110 degrees in the sun.” They were in the sun. There he focused on hand-to-hand combat training in preparation to invade Japan. But every now and again, they got a nice break.
“The peaches were ripe there. We had been out hiking for two hours with full packs and our captain, who was a great man, he said, ‘Take a break. Nobody’s to go into the peach orchard.’ And he took the first sergeant and went around the bend and said, ‘He and I are going to go plan our next hour,’” he said, smile on his face. “And the ground was literally covered with these peaches. So, I stole a couple peaches. But boy, were they good.”
He spent a majority of his time in Austria. But he first arrived in Nuremberg, where he was picked to go to “wire school,” where he learned how to climb telephone poles, splice wire, how to wire a switchboard and how to fix phones.
“We got to the station where we were put in our units and the war was now over,” Schnerre said. “So they put us in units to build them back up. And the colonel’s going down the line, counting us off and reading off names, telling us where we’re going to be going. And he came to me and he stopped. He looked at me and I thought, ‘What in the world is wrong? Is there something wrong with my uniform or what?’ He looked at me probably for five seconds, but it seemed like forever. He said, ‘The sergeant said to send this guy to wire school.’”
Another vivid memory came during his duty of guarding oil, heating oil and coal oil, that were to be rationed to citizens. He said they took turns guarding the supply, which was located in the bottom floor of a nunnery.
“We were given orders if anybody was stealing to shoot,” he said. “A civilian was shot three days before it was my turn. Not killed, wounded severely. One night in December, I got the 8 to midnight shift. It was snowing like crazy. You couldn’t see a foot in front of you.”
Schnerre said he heard the sound of a person and he alerted. He challenged, with no reply. His orders, he said, were to challenge once and then shoot. So he shot. But luckily, he missed the person. And he challenged again.
“It ended up being my relief,” he said. “But it was one of the scariest moments of my life.”
During his time in Austria, he experienced a little bit of the Cold War in Lindt.
“The Russians had a whole division on the other side of the Danube" River, he said. “We had a battalion on our side. The Cold War at that time was pretty hot. Nobody was shooting, but we stood there with guns pointed at each other.”
After he returned from his duty in November 1946, he came back and finished his senior year and went on to get a teaching degree to teach mathematics for 39 years.
During his time as a teacher, he also doubled as a bus driver, baseball and basketball coach, how he coincidentally met his wife, Jane, of 60 years.
“One of the teachers wanted to know if I wouldn’t drive a group of students to senior day at Bowling Green,” he said. Senior day is where students are able to tour the college. “We were getting ready to go home and two girls came over from the college, they were from the school I was working at, but wanted to know if they could ride home. It was a 38-passenger bus and we only had 12 students, so I said it was fine. And the first one on that bus is now my wife.”
Schnerre also worked as a foreman for a few years and did some contracting work he said, but his main love will always be teaching.
<p>U.S. military veteran Allen Frazee speaks about his experience serving during World War II at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ohio Post 1275 on Saturday, January 5 2013 in Lima, Ohio. (L.M. Parr - The Lima News)</p>
LIMA — Allen Frazee didn’t have much time to be a kid.
The 87-year-old who served in World War II graduated high school on June 6 and went into U.S. Army on June 14.
“It was my friends and my relatives that drafted me,” he said, laughing. “It’s always great to hear your friends and neighbors selected you as a serviceman.”
From there, he went to Fort Worth, Texas, and completed basic training and six weeks of infantry training.
One memorable person he met during the war: Bed Check Charlie.
“We called him ‘Bed Check Charlie.’ Every morning, he’d come right around 9 o’clock,” he said, laughing. “He would fire a couple rounds and act like he’s diving around us. He would be making bomb threats.”
He said one thing he remembers vividly was the enemy blowing up bridges that the tanks would try to get across.
“We’d have to rebuild them,” he said. “We were just lucky to get across them when we could. That was a lot of action that I saw.”
His official title?
“Doughboy,” he said, laughing.
Though he didn’t ever see the front line, he said he went through Germany and saw a lot of the remains of the villages.
“We saw a lot of towns that we went through, like Cologne, they were all bombed out good,” he said. “We found [Gen. George] Patton’s army across Germany and we moved pretty fast. We kept on moving most of the time.”
And move they did. One particular story he remembered was when troops had to retreat.
“One night, we had to retreat because they were telling us they were on the way back to where we were at. I’m telling you we got out of there in no time flat,” he said. “We had practically just got there and started unpacking when they notified us that we had to hurry up and repack and get out.”
Frazee said he came home in June 1946 and was married two years later in June 1948.
“Sixty-four and a half years,” he said, smiling. “I can’t complain. The years go by pretty fast. With four children, they keep you busy enough. I’ve had a great life.”
Frazee is also a past post commander for Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275 in Lima.
<p>Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275 Junior Advisor, Allen R. Matthews, a veteran of the US Army, recalls his service during the Viet Nam war at the VFW Post 1275 in Lima. (L.M. Parr - The Lima News)</p>
LIMA — Allen R. Mathews has always had a knack for working with dogs since he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. A knack, he said, that possibly saved his life overseas.
Mathews, 64, of Lima, was drafted into the Army just 11 months after he finished high school.
“I got drafted May 1, 1968,” he said. “I went to a Regular Army boot camp training and I went to advanced infantry training. Then I went to a special school because I was a scout-dog handler in Fort Benning, Ga.”
He was deployed to Vietnam on Jan. 28, 1968, and came back to the United States on Jan. 28, 1970, serving exactly two years. His job was to work with German Shepherd dogs to train them to alert to danger.
“Our job was to walk point for the infantry with the dog. That would give us an early silent warning of an ambush, a booby trap, a sniper or somebody that was out in front of us,” he said. “But the wind had to be coming in our direction. It couldn’t be coming up our backs or the dog wouldn’t smell. But he might alert on a noise.”
Mathews said he first landed in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam and spent a bit of time there getting his dog. But he spent most of his time while deployed in the northern part of the country along the Laotian border, he said.
“When I got off the jet, a big blast of hot air hit me in the face. The smell was unbelievable,” he said. “It was just a completely different smell of the country and it was so strange.”
Things in the country were rough, he said.
“We had to carry a lot of our weight. I carried nine quarts of water for my dog and five cans of army C-ration hamburgers, probably left over from Korea, for my dog. It was really hard going,” he said. “I never knew the human body could absorb so much punishment. I just never thought that we could do that. But the Army put you in a place that you just had to do it. There was no going back. You were there and you had to do it. There were no second thoughts. It was your job.”
But the hard going wasn’t the worst of it.
“I was lucky. A lot of people got killed around me. And I had two dogs over there. My one didn’t make it,” he said, tearing up.
The things that he saw over there will stay with him forever, he said.
“I saw a lot of death and hardship,” he said, wiping at his eye. “It’s something that you never forget. You can’t forget any of that. It’s just like you saw it yesterday.”
He said he believes possibly the only reason he made it back to the states was because he handled the dogs.
“I had two fantastic dogs,” Mathews said. “I think they were probably the reasons that I made it back. Without them, I honestly don’t know if I can say I’d be here.”
That’s why when he arrived back home, he made sure to remain around dogs.
“I had a good shepherd out on the farm and that one gave me six other shepherds,” he said. “I was blessed with dogs in the Army and I was blessed with those dogs when I came out.”
Mathews said while the war has haunted him in a way, it has also made him realize his knack for dogs and his love for the outdoors.
“I probably wouldn’t say I’ve had a normal life since then. I just can’t really explain it,” he said. “But I do like to do wilderness canoe trips. I ride Harleys. I like the outdoors.”
Mathews serves on the Honor Guard at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1275 in Lima, which military rites at funerals.
“I like it here,” he said, looking around the post. “It’s my second home.”