Ralph Freitag was out with three friends on a Saturday night when the decision was made between them to enlist in the military.
The following Monday all four signed up with Freitag joining the Army.
“We talked ourselves into it,” the Comstock, Wis., native said. “There was no second-guessing, no back tracking.” Freitag almost served in World War II, but he was working on the farms during that time, and therefore was ruled ineligible.
Freitag who was living in Baldwin at the time, was sent to Fort-McCoy for Basic Training. More than once over those 12 months, he hitchhiked from Sparta to Baldwin to visit his girlfriend, now wife, Doris.
After Basic was over, Freitag was sent to Korea for 22 months where he served from 1951-1953. He spent most of his time in Pusan as military police (MP).
“Being a MP, every day was different,” he explained. One day it could be patrolling the harbor, the next it could be driving Lieutenants around.
When his tour expired, Freitag had brief stops at Fort Knox and in Colorado before returning to Baldwin where he has been ever since.
“It was a good experience being 21 and out on your own,” Freitag said. “I had no regrets.”
Freitag married Doris in 1954 and are parents to three, grandparents to five and one great-grandchild.
They’ve lived at their current residence on Maple Street since 1961 which allowed Freitag to walk to his work at Boldt’s Plumbing and Heating for 37 years.
Throughout the years, one has likely seen Freitag at numerous Veterans Day celebrations whether it’d be at Greenfield Elementary, Baldwin-Woodville High School, St. Croix Central Middle School or the Baldwin Care Center.
“It’s a great chance to remember what you’ve done over the years,” he said.
A couple of years ago, Freitag got the opportunity to participate in the Wisconsin Honor Flight in which veterans flew into Washington D.C. and for the day were able to visit memorials such as the Lincoln, Vietnam, Korean and Air Force. In addition, while 37,000 feet up, veterans received letters of thanks for their service from random people.
“Realizing what the country has gone through, you appreciate being a Veteran now more than we did back then,” he said.