Friday, August 17, 2012
TRIBUTE TO A WARIOR
Saturday, 7:30 AM. 60 degrees F, wind changeable at ground level, but with dark rain clouds moving slowly in from the North. The barometer predicts partly cloudy weather and the humidity is only 40%, but it has begun to rain a bit and it looks like a gale may blow in from the lake.
I have always known that friend and neighbor Eric Fredenberg grew up as a “military brat,” but nothing more. His father, Major William R. Fredenberg, recently died at the age of eighty-nine in Inverness, Florida, and his obituary in our local paper fills in the blanks, and gives me ample information for this small tribute to a mighty warrior.
Major Fredenberg was a proud member of the Wisconsin Menominee Indian Tribe and also a highly decorated veteran of the United States Air Force.
Joining the Air Force in 1942, he was shot down over France in 1944 on his 37th mission as a dive bomber pilot, and was captured by the Nazis. He then led an escape from a prisoner train, and fought with the Free French resistance until the Liberation. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters for his bravery. In his continuing Air Force career, he became a flight instructor and then once again fought in combat in Vietnam as a gun ship pilot and received another Distinguished Flying Cross for his “courage, skill and resolute determination.” He retired from active duty in 1969. His funeral is being held this morning at Keshena on the Menomonee Indian Reservation.
We seldom really know the "story" of our friends and neighbors, or that of their family. The story of Major Fredenberg, who grew up on an obscure Wisconsin Indian Reservation and rose to high military rank and honor in the service of his country, is one worth knowing. America has become a more and more divisive place of late, and his was a life that honors and unites us all.