ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Private Raymond Freiwald


Local Soldier Badly Wounded by Japs

Died Reading His Bible


WDTimes 11 13 1943, article includes pic


Since learning of the death of her husband, Private Raymond Freiwald, 26, in the South Pacific, theatre of war, Mrs. Freiwald has received a number of letters from men who were with him at Arundel at the time he was wounded.


Among the letters she has received is one from John M. Haffner, captain in the 172nd infantry, who was with him when he died.  The letter follows:


My Dear Mrs. Freiwald:


Nothing I can say concerning the loss you have just suffered could be in any way adequate, but perhaps it will help if you know the high esteem in which your husband was held by those who knew him, and of the circumstances under which he so bravely died.


When Ray was in Company "E”, I was his company commander, and can honestly state that there was not a soldier in the company to whom I would have given a higher rating.  As a soldier his official rating was superior, which is the highest.  Ray was transferred to Headquarters Company where it was felt his ability could be put to greater use; but if he had remained in Company “E” he would have been before long a non-commissioned officer.


At this time I also had the responsibility of censoring mail — and though we seldom noted who wrote the letters we read, in the ease of Ray’s letters to you and his son it was impossible not to note the caliber of his affection and fine type of emotion he displayed, and then see who the writer was.  He was a fine man in every sense, and few are even capable of feeling as he did.


Oddly, months later I happened to be the only person with Ray when he died.  It was on northern Arundel Island during the recent difficult fighting there in September.


[ NOTE:  At dawn on 27 August the 172nd Infantry, 43rd Division, crossed from New Guinea to the southern end of Arundel Island.  See online article with September dates of the conflict ]


Ray was in a squad protecting a party carrying two badly wounded men down a trail to safety and necessary treatment.  This party ran into a Japanese ambush which Ray, among others, spotted in time to save many casualties.


It was necessary to “feel out” this ambush in order to get the wounded through on that route if possible.  Ray’s squad advanced carefully until they were in very close contact with the enemy.  Enemy guns suddenly opened up and Ray was hit badly.  I crawled over to him and could see that his wounds could soon be fatal.  He was not in pain as the Lord somehow gives the wounded strength.  The Bible he always carried was in his pocket and he was able to read from it until he died quietly.


I can honestly say that of all the men of my acquaintance who were lost in the recent campaign, the loss of Ray struck me hardest.  Men of Ray’s type, with families to whom they are devoted, are rare indeed and the world can ill afford to lose them.  When their loss is unavoidable it is fine that they can contribute as Ray did, in this case, to the saving of other lives.  The two wounded men were taken to safety by a different route, and only through the action of Ray’s squad was this possible.


I sincerely tender my profound sympathy to you and your son, Tommy.


John M. Haffner, Capt. 172nd Inf.


Ray lost his life on Sept. 14.  His wife is the former Evelyn Smith, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Smith of route 2.


Tommy, Ray’s son, referred to in the letter, is 11 months old.  The last letter Mrs. Freiwald received from her husband was written on Sept. 12, two days before his death.  She received the letter on Sept. 22.


Mrs. Freiwald has received a number of other letters from men who fought with her husband.  Among others who wrote are B. C. Culver, Ray’s company commander; Robert Oberdas, Milwaukee; and Harold Lueth of Minnesota.


Before Ray entered the service, he was employed by the local Montgomery Ward store.




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