“A true military family,” by Tom Hauer, was published in Senior Perspective’s November 2015 issue.
WINSTED, MN It was a “baker’s dozen” for Paul and Ellen Weibel of Winsted, as they were blessed with 13 children: 10 boys and three girls.
One thing that made them very proud was, nine of the 10 boys served time in the US military, going back to the World War II days in 1942.
The brothers were honored at the Winsted Legion festival parade in August 1997; and April 28, 2012, three of them flew on a plane out of St. Cloud to Washington, DC on the Honor Flight.
The first child, Ruth, was born in 1916, and the last one, Curt, arrived in 1946. In between Ruth and Curt, were George, Floyd, Claude, Martin, Earl, Harold, June, Jeanette, Stanley, Glenn, and Robert.
George was the first Weibel to serve his country.
He was in the Navy and was a motor machinist on a landing vehicle personnel ship during WWII. He cruised from Hawaii to Australia to Japan.
He was born in 1917, and passed away in 1992.
Paul Floyd Weibel
Floyd, born in 1919 (his real name was Paul Floyd Weibel), was drafted into the Army in 1942 and was assigned to the 807th tank destroyer.
Floyd was in the Army from 1942 to 1945, under the orders of George Patton as a tank driver in Germany, and was involved with several battles.
He got the American Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Overseas Service Medal, and European-African Middle Eastern Service Medal with two Bronze Battle Stars.
Claude, born in 1921, was drafted into the Navy and was on the Cook First Class ship, made of wood, during WWII.
He died in a car crash on Highway 7 in Minnesota Dec. 15, 1943.
Martin Leslie Weibel born 1924
Martin, born in 1924 (his real name is Leslie Martin Weibel), was the first of the Weibel brothers to volunteer.
He entered the Navy in June 1944, and was released in June 1946.
His ship, the USS Hugh W. Hadley, was attacked by Japanese kamikaze planes in Okinawa.
“My adventures were cut short,” according to Martin.
His amazing story is in more detail in this article. He was one of the three brothers who made the Honor Flight to Washington, DC in 2012.
Earl was born in 1926, and served in the Navy Reserve as a communicator during WWII. He served for two years.
While in Pearl Harbor, he got to be with his brother, Martin, and they exchanged some good times.
Earl died in 1966.
Harold Pete Weibel
Pete, born in 1928 (his real name was Harold), had two stints in the Navy.
His first stint was April 1945 to April 1949. He loaded ships from May to December, then was transitioned to be a Navy Seabee, the construction battalion.
After his first tour, he was drafted in 1950, and sent to Korea and then to North Africa. He finished his duty in October 1954, and died in 2009.
Stan served in the Navy from 1952 to 1956 on a tanker, the USS Elokomin, the Mighty Elo. He worked refueling ships.
He died in 1999.
Glenn Weibel born 1938
Glenn got out of high school in the early part of June 1956, on a Thursday. On Sunday night, he was headed for Fort Chaffee, AR to join the Army.
He was assigned to the 7th Army Headquarters in Germany. He served over two years, and retired from the Army in 1959.
Read on and find out more about Glenn’s adventures in Germany.
Glenn was the organizer of the three brothers who made the Honor Flight to Washington, DC.
Curtis Weibel born 1946
The youngest brother, Curt, was in the Army from September 1964 to September 1967.
He took basic training at Ford Leonard Wood, MO. Like his brother, Glenn, he was assigned to the Third Armored Division, E. Company 122nd Ordinance/Maintenance Battalion.
In fall 1965, he was transferred to the 56th Transportation Company at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon.
The company’s insignia read, “Findem, Fixem, Flyem.” Their mission was to direct support of aircraft maintenance to include recovery of downed aircraft, repair, and fly again.
He was honorably discharged in September 1970 from the US Army Reserves and received the following medals: Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/60 Device, and the Good Conduct Medal.
Curt, at first, didn’t want to go on the Honor Flight to Washington DC, but his brothers, Glenn and Martin, convinced him to join them.
Robert Weibel born 1940
The only brother who didn’t serve in the military was Robert.
He was born in 1940, and had arm paralysis and was physically unable to serve.
Glenn’s military days
Glenn was with the 7th Army in Germany,
He was scheduled to go to Fort Sam Houston in Texas for helicopter training, but while home on leave, he got orders to go to Fort Eustis, VA for helicopters.
He got down there, and the classes were canceled. The warrant officer that was in his basic training unit happened to be in personnel down there, and he asked him to change into that field.
He was there from September to December, and then a week before Christmas, they were put on the USS Upshore and went to Germany.
They got into Germany a couple of days before Christmas, and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Frankfurt.
Then, he got reassigned to Heidenau, Germany, in the 7th Army Headquarters, and subsequently assigned to the quartermaster section in the food service division. His job there was inspecting mess halls across Germany.
Major Anderson was also the food service advisor for 7th Army, so he developed and oversaw all the menu preparations, etc. for all the mess halls.
They would hit the road a couple of times a year inspecting mess halls. They had the opportunity to inspect Elvis Presley’s mess hall.
They went north in the spring and south in the fall, so they conveniently hit Octoberfest in Munich.
“Never seemed to miss that,” Glenn chuckled.
The major liked that. After the first three years were complete, Glenn put in again for helicopter school and had to extend three months to meet the minimum age because he wasn’t 21 yet.
They gave him a physical and they said he would need glasses so he didn’t qualify. They wouldn’t give him the physical, before.
He got out after three years, one month and 27 days.
According to Glenn, he had some very nice experiences with Major Anderson. He was a strong supporter of youth activity, and they got Glenn involved in youth activities and organized and ran the youth baseball and basketball programs for the American youth who were there from the military personnel.
His last venture with that group was taking the teenage team over to France on a road trip.
While on that trip, Glenn got word that his sister, Jeanette, had been killed. He was put on an airplane out of Germany and then into New York and into Minneapolis to get home in time for the funeral.
The day of the funeral they delayed the funeral about two hours because of airline schedules.
A local businessman picked him up in Minneapolis in a private airplane and flew him out to Winsted to get to the funeral.
Martin’s military days
All hell broke loose when Martin was in Hawaii during World War II
Martin, 14 at the time, ran away from home with a couple of buddies looking for adventure. They rode the rails, picked sugar beets, thrashed wheat, worked on farms, harvested apples, and had a blast.
He was working in a California shipyard when Uncle Sam caught up with him. Martin remembers when he got an invitation from Uncle Sam to “come work for me. I will see you get free room and board, get clothes, and a nice place to sleep.”
“Well, when I got to Fort Snelling, I asked if there was any chance I could get in a submarine,” Martin recalled. “They looked it up and said, ‘no, because you didn’t have enough education.’”
Instead, he was placed on a destroyer, the USS Hugh W. Hadley, and was on a two-week trip to Hawaii.
“We left on Thanksgiving Day and one of the crew mates made up a kite that was put on a 150-foot string behind the ship.
“Our commander said, ‘Gentlemen, you better take a good look because this might be the last time you see the states.’ Everybody laughed at him.”
On May 10, at 7:30 in the morning, near Okinawa, Martin said, “All hell broke loose. A swarm of bees were coming and we didn’t know what was happening. It was 150 Japanese suicide planes (kamikazes).
“At 8:20, the general quarters bell rang. I flew to the basement (floor level) and lit the two boilers to get them to top 850 pounds of steam, dry steam to the turbines to keep the propellers going. We run the boilers for one hour and 15 minutes full force.
“The skipper said, ‘This is going to be like shooting turkeys out in the fields, boys. Take your choice. Don’t aim, just fire.’
“We fired 851 five-inch. It was unbelievable. The 5-inch gun barrels area was supposed to be straight. Ours were bent because they got so hot.
“At 9:20, three suicides and one 500-pound bomb hit us. The bomb raised the ship. If that bomb had gone off 2 inches to the left or 2 inches to the right, none of us would be here. It hit the main rift. We were dead in the water. We shot down 23 kamikaze planes. We got towed back. We lost 35 crew members that day.
“We refueled and got towed back. What a ride. It was a 6,100-mile ride. Our top speed was 3 miles an hour, and the trip took three months,” Martin said.
He added, “That was the longest, slowest ride of my life. On Dec. 15, they decommissioned the ship and we all got released, and I came home in time for Christmas.
“On Jan. 15, I got orders to report to Seattle, WA. I got on another ship and all we did was run up and down the coast looking for submarines. In June, I got out.”
2012 Honor Flight
On April 27, 2012, Martin, with his brothers, Glenn and Curt, went to Washington, DC on an Honor Flight. They walked around and saw all the war memorials and statues.
“Brother Curt had been to Washington, but he was very hesitant to go to the wall,” Glenn said. “I heard about the Honor Flights that were being conducted once a year. The qualifier was, at that time, you had to be a WWII veteran who had never been there. So I did some checking into it and made arrangements.”
Glenn called Martin. He was ready to go.
“I talked to Curt’s wife and she said he didn’t want to go there,” said Glenn. “I said, well the arrangements have been made. All he has to do is get up here and we’ll go together. So, she called his boss and his boss directed him off of work.
“He (Curt) came up and we all went to St. Cloud the night before and stayed overnight. We had to be at the St. Cloud airport at 5 o’clock in the morning.
“It was a full plane of veterans and escorts. The gentleman out of St. Cloud that ran it said they have had two brothers before, but never three that were all former military.
“The crew on the plane was fantastic. At St. Cloud, there were VFW, American Legion, and Boy Scouts. It was an absolute escort all the way through.
“We got to Washington DC and again, veterans and civic organizations met them going through the terminal buildings, various locations . . . particularly at the war memorial. Again, it was all kind of service organizations that met them.
“Letters were distributed while on board the airplane, like the way mail call was done in the military.
“We got back into St. Cloud 10 o’clock at night, and the terminal building was lined literally lined from when you walk into the terminal building all the way to the front with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, VFW, American Legion . . . the whole nine yards. Very, very impressive,” Glenn said.
There was only one bad thing that happened on that trip, according to Martin.
Curt lost his billfold. On the way home, Curt was against the sidewall of the airplane and his billfold came out of his pocket.
As soon as we got to the motel that night, he said he lost his billfold. By that time, the airplane had left and gone to Minneapolis.
“So I tried to get a hold of the airline down there,” Glenn said. “Of course, nobody is around. The next day that airplane had a flight to New York, and some passenger found it and gave it to the stewardess and the billfold got back to Curt.”
The Weibels are planning a family reunion later on this year to share stories and memories of growing up.