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Off The Editor’s Desk – 4-25-2018

 A good story, it needs to be retold

I promised myself that I would not write a gloom and doom story for this week’s newspapers and would try to find a true-life story that we all could enjoy.

Well, I found one that I like, courtesy of the magazine called the “New Roads.” It’s a publication from Chevrolet Division of General Motors and sent to me compliments of our local Chevrolet dealer, Keyes Chevytown in Menomonie.

Leslie Ellis penned the following:

The story is about a 94-year-old World War Two veteran by the name of Reuben Schaetzel who is still working as a car salesman at the Buss Chevrolet in Shawano, Wisconsin. He has been selling cars since 1951.

The story starts in 1945 on a battlefield in Germany. A bazooka had ripped into Schaetzel’s tank, killing three of his comrades and immobilizing their vehicle. “If you’re in an area with casualties, you don’t just abandon them,” Schaetzel said. “I was charged with the responsibility of staying with them over night. I was feeling very scared because I was all by myself and I wasn’t feeling too well because I had been burned.”

“The next morning, a jeep came driving up, it had a license plate with four stars.” He said, “Holy man! It’s General Patton. He jumped out and hopped onto the back deck of my tank. He put his arm over my shoulder and said. ‘Soldier, what happened here?” I told him, “Take a look in my turret.”

“After he saw the bodies, he was just white in the face. He came back and hunkered down alongside me and said, “You OK? I said, I’ll be OK.’ He said, “Where are you from?’ I said, ‘Wisconsin.’ He pated me on the back and said, ‘Good luck, soldier,’ and jumped off the tank and got into his jeep and drove away?

Fast-forward a few years to when Schaetzel was attending a festival in Pilsen, Czech Republic, to celebrate the town’s liberation by Patton’s Third Army from the Nazis. There he met George Patton Waters, 77, the grandson of General George S. Patton.

“We met and started talking about my grandfather,” said Waters, who spends about 100 days each year talking to veterans groups. “He looked up at me and said, ‘I drove a tank for that S.O.B.’ we became friends. I’d like to say we’re like brothers.”

They meet again during a fundraiser at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. The subject of a car sale came up. Waters ended up buying a new Chevrolet Equinox from Schaetzel and when he came to Shawano to retrieve the new vehicle it had been fitted out with a four-star license plate, as well as his famous grandfather’s division medallion on the grill and trunk.

“Waters said that he remembered his grandfather, but he was only four years old in 1945 and noted that his grandfather was a great big man, and he spoke two languages, one was English and the other was profanity.”

I recently finished reading the book, “Killing Patton” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. It was well know that Patton saw the Russians as the real threat to the world and he apparently was willing, and probably able, to bring the Russians to their knees. What would the world look like today if that had happened?

However, what would the cost in human lives have been? Russia would be a free state like Germany is today and we would not have had the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and probably not had all the trouble in the Middle East. But that is all hindsight, and that might make a good movie script.

Thanks for reading! ~Carlton