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Oak Creek Heroes Private First Class Frederick K. Oelschlaeger

The Oelschlaeger family moved to Oak Creek in 1933, buying a 20-acre farm located near what is today the Milwaukee Area Technical College southern campus.

Fred Oelschlaeger had a reputation for being a tough guy.  At least his children thought of him that way.

There were four children, Dan the youngest, followed by Audrey, Gordon and Frederick the oldest, named for his father, but known as Fritz by his brothers.

Fritz was a big, standing well over six feet tall.  He was 17 years older than his youngest brother Dan, and Fritz would toss Dan in the air like he was nothing when Fritz was home from the war on leave.

Fritz Oelschlaeger graduated from Bay View High School and enlisted in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1940.  The Second World War was raging and Private First Class Frederick “Fritz” Oelschlaeger was assigned to New Guinea.  He became part of the 32nd Division, Wisconsin’s famed Red Arrow Division.  Fighting started at Buna, New Guinea, in September 1942.  Between combat and jungle diseases, the division would be sidelined in Australia for nearly a year before being restored to combat readiness.  Fighting resumed at Saidor in New Guinea in early 1944. Then came the Battle of Aitape.

War was raging in a series of battles near the jungle villages of Afua and Aitape and the Driniumor River.  The hamlet of Afua changed hands multiple times as the US battled the Japanese.  The fighting was made even more difficult by harsh terrain, a lack of roads, inaccurate maps, and the mixing of different US Army units.  The Division suffered heavy casualties.

That summer of 1944 brought a telegram to the Oelschlaeger family home.  It was well understood across the country that any unexpected telegram was nearly always bad news.  In addition to Fritz, brother Gordon was a Marine fighting on Saipan.  The family knew this telegram could be concerning either son.

Dan Oelschlaeger was only age eight when that telegram arrived.  It conveyed the sad news that Fritz was killed in action July 16, 1944.  He was 24 years old.  When the telegram arrived, Frederick Oelschlaeger Senior sat on a sofa and put his head in his hands and cried, according to Dan.  Dan had never seen his father cry before.

Father C.J. Eschweiler presided over the funeral at St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church.  Father Eschweiler observed that Frederick was the first to volunteer when his country was in danger and was the first of the congregation to die in action, and likewise the first to die from the Town of Oak Creek.

Pfc. Frederick K. Oelschlaeger’s sacrifice is remembered and honored through the naming of American Legion Post 434 – the Oelschlaeger Dallmann Post – located at 9327 S Shepard Ave, Oak Creek, WI 53154.  Dallmann is an war hero from WW1.  Learn more about Dallmann here.

Pfc. Frederick K. Oelschlaeger

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