FOX VALLEY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Calumet County, Fond du Lac County, Outagamie County, Winnebago County

Vietnam veteran receives free accessible van from another veteran’s widow

Local News

APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – An Army medic who recently passed away asked his wife for one thing before he passed – and that was to give his van to someone in need.

Jim Schafer, a three-tour medic, was a Vietnam veteran who died from an Agent Orange-related sickness. Before his death, Schafer told his Air Force veteran wife, Susan, that he wanted his accessible van, which included a motorized scooter, given to another Vietnam veteran in need.

John Koehler, an area Vietnam veteran who is actively involved in many charitable veteran causes in Northeast Wisconsin, says he was able to find a veteran in Baraboo in need of a van.

John Pekala of Baraboo is an amputee who is 100 percent disabled. He served with the Army in Vietnam in the early 1970s and suffers from the impact of Agent Orange.

On Tuesday, Pekala and his family picked up Schafer’s van, free of charge.

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“I’m amazed and I’m grateful, and I’m very happy,” Pekala told WFRV Local 5. “I think I’ll get a lot of use out of this. I haven’t been able to leave the house by myself for a couple of years now. Just to be able to get into a vehicle and take off down the backroad and relax.”

Pekala says that as soon as he’s allowed, he’s going to do some fishing.


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