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POWs remembered for sacrifice to their country

POWs remembered for sacrifice to their country POWs remembered for sacrifice to their country

By Ginna Young

Although they may be gone, they are not forgotten, as the families of Cadott community members William “Bill” Scheidler and Frank Nesvacil, honored the POWs with two shadow boxes full of memorabilia of their time serving their country. In partnership with the Cadott American Legion Auxiliary/VFW, the shadow boxes were unveiled Nov. 4, in a special ceremony.

Bill and Frank each served in World War II, and were captured overseas. Through the joint efforts of the families and the Legion, the glassed in shadow boxes were made at Vicki’s Frame Shop in Chippewa Falls, and set above the POW table at the Legion hall.

Bill was born in the Town of Arthur, the second oldest of nine children. He was drafted into the Army October 1942, as a member of the 9th Armored Division, 60th Infantry Battalion, C Company. After his training at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was sent to New York, boarded the Queen Mary and arrived in Scotland.

He was then moved south to Normandy Beach in France, defending the city of Beaufort, driving back the German army. Bill ended up in Luxembourg, and after fighting for several months, he was eventually captured Dec. 19, 1944, at 23 years old, by Hitler’s Youth Corp.

Bill had said he remembered that night well, citing it as a “scary” time. At the prison camp he was sent to, Bill worked outside the prison on nearby farms, doing odd jobs, such as cleaning barns. In return for his service, he was fed bread, potatoes or grass soup, as food was scarce. He was moved between several POW camps and when Berlin was bombed, he could see the fire and explosions where he was kept prisoner. Finally, the camp was taken over by Russians, but he was not immediately released. After several weeks, Americans walked out of the open gates of the POW camp in June 1945, after the war ended May 8. It took Bill a long time to get to the American side of the Elbe River, riding on a truck, then a train, to get to the American forces.

He was cleaned up, fed, given clothes that didn’t fit and sent to Camp Lucky Strike, where eventually, he was sent home on a liberty ship and landed in Norfolk, Va. Bill then made his way back home to Stanley, where he was reunited with his family. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge, among other medals.

Frank was born and raised near Cadott, in 1921, one of three children. He spoke “Bohemian” until the first or second grade, graduating from Cadott High School in 1940.

He entered the Army in October of 1942, and was discharged from active duty September 1945, after the war ended. Frank was a prisoner of war under the Germans, in the Battle of the Bulge, from Christmas Eve 1944 to April 1945, never knowing the exact location of the camps he was moved to.

He, and 50 or so other American prisoners, had nothing more than their clothes and boots they were wearing, which meant no blankets or even a change of clothes. Frank ended up with frostbite, which persisted through the winter.

After he was captured, a stray bullet struck him in the foot by his ankle, but he didn’t even know he had been wounded until he took his boot off.

Frank suffered from painful depression on POWs remembered for their secrifice

account of his captivity and only shared his experiences with Bill. Frank passed away Oct. 27, 2005, and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for his service.

Lois Nesvacil, Frank’s daughter-in-law, said they would coax Frank to share stories of his time as a captive.

“And he would never tell any of us what being a prisoner of war was like,” said Lois.

Angie Willkom Nesvacil, Frank’s daughter, agreed.

“He didn’t tell us any of it,” she said.

Cadott Legion commander Rick VanderMolen said as POWs, Bill and Frank endured more adversities during their service of this country, than anyone could imagine. Going days without food and water, dramatic weather changes with improper clothing and never knowing what the day would bring, took its toll.

“Upon return home, they all had to endure hardships of melting back into home life,” said VanderMolen. “They all hide their worst nightmares that they did not want to subject their family to…this was called shell shock then and now is known as PTSD.”

Having known both men, Pastor George Olinske says Cadott resident Les Timmerman (also passed) was also part of the war.

“They were all within a half a mile of each other and didn’t know it, until after they got back,” said Olinski. “I miss them, they were special people.”

While their internal scars never went away, Frank and Bill found an outlet in volunteering with other veterans, and working together on community projects.

“…This was their way of healing and coming to terms with serving our nation,” said VanderMolen.