OSHKOSH, Wis. (WFRV) – It’s always special to talk to a World War II veteran, and on this week’s Hometown Hero, 97-year-old Paul Klemmer has pages filled with memories from his time in the army.
“I grew up in Oshkosh on Lake Butte De Morts. When I was seven years old, the great depression hit,” said Klemmer. “We used to go out and work on farms for a dollar a day. You did what you had to do.”
He’s seen a lot in his life.
“But then that all changed with the war coming on,” added Klemmer.
And things did change when Klemmer was drafted into the Army, eventually with the 95th Infantry Division.
“I think we would’ve been disappointed if we were not chosen,” stated Klemmer. “Things had a different slant to life. We were all going to go beat the Nazis, or so it had seemed at the time.”
It was August of 1944 when Klemmer and the 95th traveled overseas to Europe during World War II. He recalls sleeping on the deck of the ship.
Supplying the front lines, Klemmer and the 95th saw plenty of action.
“The thing about it is, you have to put up with combat for a long time,” Klemmer explained. “We had about 200 successive days with it, and that’s really hard on people.”
Through France, Germany, and Belgium, Klemmer sharply recalls his work with the 95th.
It earned him both a bronze star and a French Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit. Recipients include Bob Dylan and Walt Disney, to name a few.
“It has quite historical significance,” said Klemmer. “When I went into the military, I was the last person you’d want to pick for doing anything because I never went to school.”
But Klemmer did do many great things in his service, and once he got out of the military, too.
Using the GI Bill, he became an engineer. He still keeps pristine memories of his time during World War II and all the traveling he’s done since because there’s always a story to tell.
“I guess maybe people do listen to it like you are right now,” concluded Klemmer. “You’re supporting it through all of this documentation that you put out there. I just found it of interest to be looking up and putting stuff down. Here I am, 97, I’ve got time. Really kind of proud we made it, you know?”