By David Stenklyft
Wausau Pilot and Review
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories detailing the history of the American Legion in Wausau, including highlights about the men and women of Post 10, in advance of the organization’s 100-year anniversary.
Of the 21 soldiers From Oshkosh who died in the Vietnam War, Al Morasch attended high school with seven of them and two were in his military squad.
Morasch, a past commander of Wausau Legion Post 10, wears two bracelets on his right wrist. One is worn for soldier Richard J. Hentz, who is still missing. The other states: Not anyone who lost their life in Vietnam died there, not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there.
Morasch, who spent some of his childhood before moving to Oshkosh, served his country from 1966 to 1973. He went to basic training at “Fort Lost in the Woods” Missouri, as he called it, otherwise known as Fort Leonard Wood.
“It was out in the woods, not far from St Charles, Missouri,” Morasch said. “We were in the older World War II barracks. You could literally roll a marble and it would roll from our barracks into the next and keep rolling.”
Morasch didn’t have much choice in where he was assigned after basic training. First, he was sent to Fort Ord, in California, for advanced infantry training. From there, he went to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii with the 11th Light Infantry. By December 1967, he was on the USS General Wiegel, an old World War II transport, and spent 13 days on Pacific before landing in Vietnam.
It didn’t take long for Morasch to find himself in the midst of some of the most ferocious battles of the Vietnam War.
“I was a squad leader for the 11th Infantry, 11 Bravo, which was known as the ‘bullet catcher,'” Morasch said.
But much of what he experienced he is reluctant to share; the memories are simply too painful, too private.
Morasch is now committed to helping others, especially other veterans.
“I really like the camaraderie of the post, helping veterans,” Morasch said. “Most any local organization or support group is supported by the Legion.”
The Post is on a membership drive through the summer, looking for new members, not only to boost membership numbers, but also to help veterans and their families. There are 63 programs they work with to assist with any veteran issues.
The American Legion Post welcomes all military personnel serving the U.S. Their mission is to implement the goals, aspirations, dreams, peace and blessings for our country, friends and families. Membership is based on honorable service with any branch of the U.S. Armed forces during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Lebanon/Grenada conflict from Aug. 24, 1082 to July 31, 1984, Operation Just Cause from Dec. 20, 1989 to Jan. 31, 1990, and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, from Aug. 2, 1990 through today.
To learn more or to join Post 10, visit the organization’s membership page.