Akron veteran Milt Schneider receives honor

Posted December 15, 2017 at 12:01 am

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By Julie Ann Madden

A local veteran was recognized recently by Hospice of Siouxland for serving his country in Korean War.

The Certificate of Appreciation states “We appreciate our veterans. We pay special tribute to you for your military service to America and for advancing the universal hope of liberty and freedom for all.”

In his room at the Akron Care CenterMilton Schneider, of Akron, proudly displays the certificate, presented by Albert E. Hoschler American Legion Post No. 186 Commander Warren Thompson recently with the family of his grandson, Jeremy Hansen, present.

In 1945, the Merrill native received his draft notice in 1945 to report to Fort Snelling for a physical examination.

The U.S. Army sent him back home because he had one leg one-half inch shorter than the other.

However, in 1950, the U.S. Navy had no qualms about Schneider enlisting.

Schneider first served on the USS Bon Homme Richard aircraft carrier and then the USS Salisbury Sound, spending most of this time in the Phillippines and Japan waters, including in the Taiwan Strait near the Pescadores Islands..

During his four trips overseas, Schneider, an armament mechanic and fireman, was tasked with arming the war planes with bombs and rockets.

His Task Force met at the Quarters at 8 a.m. to get their orders for the day.

Schneider loaded the bombs weighing from 100 to 2,000 “pounders” as he called them.

After loading a plane, he and a fellow sailor would stand out in the middle of the deck. If a bomb fell off the plane as it left the ship, the two “had to take care of the bomb.”

“Most of the time when they came unhooked, they’d go rolling down the deck,” explained Schneider. “We’d have to defuse them or whatever we needed to do and throw them over the side, off the deck.”

“I loaded quite a few planes in a day,” said Schneider. “We did a lot of working at night — without lights in battle zones. We had little flashlights.”

One time a plane was coming in to land on the ship but we told the pilot he couldn’t land as he still had ammo, he added. “It would have blew (exploded). The pilot bailed out of the plane, sending it into the ocean.”

“I had a Chief — ‘Big John’ — we called him,” said Schneider. “When they’d holler at us to speed one up that we were having problems with, he’d always tell us to take care of ourselves and do the best we can. He really helped us.”

Schneider said they’d have eight-month tours overseas with four months back in the States.

“Living on ship wasn’t quite so bad,” said Schneider. “At least you had a dry place to lie down.””

Noting the USS Bon Homme Richard had about 3,000 sailors on board, “the food wasn’t too bad — we had it pretty good as far as eating goes,” he said.

“We generally stayed out far enough where we could see the (enemy’s) guns being shot at us but we were out far enough they couldn’t quite hit us,” said Schneider.

The sailors did get leaves when they were in port, he said. The first time I went ashore, there were about 100 girls waiting at the gate, looking for an American soldier.

The sailors were enjoy a few beers while in port on leave, said Schneider, noting there wasn’t much to do for his first leave.

But by the second, the flow of American dollars into the town changed that 100 percent.

When asked if he had other memories of his military service, Schneider smiled and had a twinkle in his eyes — the look a soldier or sailor gives to non-comrades without further explanation.

“I’ve got some memories,” said Schneider, sharing one time he received a phone call while on guard duty on the ship’s deck plank. It was Ed Dirks, of Akron, visiting in San Diego who stopped by to see him and take him out to dinner.

Schneider served 3 years, 9 months and 10 days in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged as a Third Class Petty Officer.

They were sending his Task Force overseas the fourth time when one of “the boys” contacted someone asking why they were being shipped out when they had less than 90 days left to serve.

“They jerked us off the ship at Pearl Harbor,” said Schneider. “We stayed there for 30 days, then they shipped us back to the States for discharge.”

Schneider received National Defense, Korean Service, United Nations and Good Conduct medals for his service.

“I wanted to stay in the service but they wouldn’t give me what I wanted,” said Schneider, admitting he didn’t want to return home to farm. However, that is what he did.

“My dad had all new machinery — tractor, plow, culivator — for me,” he said, adding they had a whole section two miles north of the Akron cemetery and four miles east. “Dad had the east half-section and I had the west.”

Schneider arrived home in time for harvest that Fall of 1954.

In 1956, Schneider quit farming, bought a truck and began taking loads of hogs to the West Coast for Don Caskey. He’d pick up a load of lumber in Priest River, Idaho, on the return trip.

After 12 years trucking, he joined Heyl Truck Lines staff. Schneider was in charging of hiring employees and traveled a lot, attending court hearings to get Heyls the authority to haul in various locations.

After 26 years with Heyl Truck Lines, he decided to retire but the next day, Harold Higman Jr. hired him to work at Higman Sand & Gravel. After nine years there, he finally retired but couldn’t to drive truck for several area farmers.

Schneider also served on the Akron Board of Adjustment, the Akron City Council and the Sioux Valley Regional Railroad Authority.

Schneder and his wife, the former Dorothy Lambertson of Hawarden, had married just before he joined the U.S. Navy. They were blessed with three daughters: JoEllen Hansen of Akron; Reta (Milo) Deeds of Correctionville; and Cleo (Mike) Welch of Colorado Springs, CO; and a son: Tom (Joanie) Schneider of Akron. They also have 13 grandchildren; 30 great-grandchildren. Dorothy passed away in 2015.

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