LIVINGSTON — Lifelong Livingston-area resident Clyde Wagner was selected to go on the Badger Honor Flight on National Armed Forces Day May 17.
Clyde’s youngest son, Jim, was his travel companion. Clyde truly enjoyed the honor flight on Saturday. It was an amazing experience for him and many family members were there to greet him when he arrived home.
Wagner was drafted into the Army July 18, 1944. He completed his 13 weeks of boot camp training at Camp Grant in Chicago, and after three months of infantry training, he was assigned to Camp Wheeler in Macon, Ga.
On New Year’s Day 1945, Wagner and his company, 3rd Infantry Division, Company L, left New York City on the Queen Mary and after sailing for two weeks landed in Glasgow, Scotland. From Glasgow, his division sailed through the English Channel, landing in LeHavre, France. At this point, his company was assigned with the Seventh French Army to a location along the border of Germany and Switzerland.
On the night of Feb. 5, 1945, while hiking through a village in Germany, a shell landed among the company of soldiers. Wagner was severely wounded in the leg from shrapnel, and several American and French soldiers were killed.
The wounded were evacuated to a hospital in Paris. After undergoing surgery and one month of recuperation, Wagner, still on a stretcher, and 22 other American soldiers were flown back to the U.S. through Bangor, Maine. After spending a night in Bangor, he was transported, via a train to an Army hospital in Topeka, Kan. In September 1945, after an additional six months of recuperation, Wagner received an honorable discharge with a military medical release and returned home to his family in Livingston.
Due to his wounding during a military action against the U.S., Wagner was awarded the Purple Heart. For his military service, he was awarded the European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal ribbon with a bronze star. This medal was created Nov. 6, 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt with the intended purpose to recognize those military members who performed military duty from December 1941 through March 1946 in the European Theatre, including North Africa and the Middle East.
Wagner was also awarded the Croix de guerre (Cross of War) with a bronze palm, a French military decoration to honor those who fought with the Allies against the Axis force during the Second World War.
Clyde and his wife Marjorie had eight children — David (Evie), Gary (Judy), Cheryl (John) Peterson, Janel (Bob) Lapanja, Mary Jo, Deb (Bruce) Ivey, Judy (Harry) Reddy, and Jim. The Wagners farmed in the Livingston area and Marge was a school teacher for many years. Marge died in 2007.
• Piggly Wiggly Midwest ran a Fill a Fridge campaign March 17–31, in which individuals could nominate a veteran from Wisconsin or Illinois and say why their nominee deserved to have their fridge and pantry filled.
Individuals submitted nomination forms on YouTube, through www.shopthepig.com, through email, and at their local Piggly Wiggly store. They were also encouraged to submit photos of the recipient through email and Instagram.
Once nominations were received, Piggly Wiggly selected staff members that would read through each entry carefully to learn more about the nominees. After military service was verified, and the nominees were sorted into a pile of interest, the final 20 recipients were selected due to their acts overseas as well as back at home. Piggly Wiggly contacted the family and friends that submitted the nomination forms, and quickly began planning the surprise unveilings.
Piggly Wiggly of Platteville selected Gary Wetter as the Platteville-area winner. Wetter was nominated by his brother, Dennis.
Gary Wetter served in the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1967. He received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart because of his bravery and actions during an attack. Later, Gary was shot in the back by a sniper. The bullet is still in his back to this day.
“We here at Piggly Wiggly are privileged to recognize Gary for his courage and sacrifice for our country,” said store director Tiffany Meyers. “As a company, we are pleased that we are able to make a difference in a veteran’s life.
“We are hoping that we can raise awareness to something that is important to us as a company. Coming home from war overseas is extremely difficult, and as a culture we are becoming increasingly desensitized to the issue at hand. These individuals fought for our country and it is time that they received the praise that they truly deserve.”
The complete list of winners is listed at www.shopthepig.com.
Piggly Wiggly hosted a brat sale Saturday, with all proceeds going to a local veterans’ organization.