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Hometown Hero: Maureen Radtke has a special reason for enlisting in the Navy

Hometown Heroes

Appleton, Wis. (WFRV) – Maureen Radtke grew up in a close knit family in Antigo.

“I always wanted to be a teacher and when I grew up I always wanted to join the service,” Radtke said. She would end up doing both.

Inspired by her cousin Jack’s heroic death in Pearl Harbor, she knew she was always meant to be in the service.

“In 1942 this cousin was killed in the war and it just hit us really hard,” recalled Radtke. “My cousin, his brother, and I decided that when we got out of high school, we would join the service,” Radtke said.

“That was my main reason for joining plus, I knew I could go to school on the GI Bill if I wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

Radtke was bussed to Bainbridge, Maryland for boot camp with Company 72 for basic training during the Korean War.

She was put through photo school before heading to the nation’s capital.

“Then we were sent to D.C. and I worked in the color lab and we did big photos of all the dignitaries and all the monuments and everything and here we were stationed there so we could actually go and see the monuments you know, and I loved it,” said Radtke.

Radtke was finally able to make her dream come full circle when she went to UW Fox Cities to earn a teaching degree.

“I accomplished becoming a teacher, and I was, and I loved it,” Radtke said. “I have fond memories. I’ll meet kids who were my students with kids of their own all over. And my life after the Navy, I’ve always supportedveterans you know, and so when I could join a Veterans unit. I did,” she said.

That’s what Radtke spends most of her time doing in retirement now; Reflecting and volunteering with her fellow vets.

Because as she puts it, it’s because of our men and women in uniform that our country is free.

“All of the veterans, although I never went overseas. but those who have gone overseas defend all of us,. they stand for all of us. And I’m very proud of being a veteran and being a supporter of veterans groups,” said Radtke.

Have someone you’d like to nominate for Hometown Hero? Let us know below!

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