Milton C. Raeck

Milton C. Raeck, 83, of Richfield, passed away at home, with loved ones by his side, on July 31, 2009.

Cherished and beloved husband for over 50 years of Olga (nee Hoell). Devoted and loving father of David (Tammy) and Debra. Loved brother of Helen Oestreich and Agnes Domer. Dear brother-in-law of Herb and Lucille Hoell and Violet Sass. Caring uncle of Jack and Dale Oestreich, Sandy Swanson, Randy (Linda) Raeck, Kathy Roeper, and Robert (Jackie) Hoell. True and loyal friend of Otis Kath, Ken and Karin Eppler and John and Ira Zeker.

Preceded in death by brothers, Norman, Howard, Harold, and Orville; in-laws, Oscar Oestreich, Harold Domer and Herb and Olga Hoell; and niece, Laurie.

Milton had very humble beginnings. He was born at home in the township of Green Grove, Clark County, on March 17, 1926. This was a rural farming community in northern Wisconsin. Milton was raised by his uncle and aunt, William and Elizabeth Roohr, in Unity, where he attended a one-room schoolhouse and worked the farm.

Milton graduated from Loyal High School in 1944. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduation. His most notable naval service was his tour at the San Francisco Naval Shipyard as a Fireman First Class, maintaining ship engines. In July of 1945, during Milton’s tour, the key fissile components of the first atomic bomb were loaded into the USS Indianapolis for shipment to Tinian.

The following year, just a month prior to his discharge, six convicts at the Alcatraz prison, attempted an escape and a three-day prison riot ensued. The U.S. Marines, Coast Guard and Navy were called to action. Thousands of rounds were exchanged during the siege, and Milton was on the Navy destroyer that encircled the island. Milton was honorably discharged from the Navy in June of 1946.

Milton re-enlisted with the Armed Services in 1947; this time with the U.S. Army. In 1950, he was stationed in Japan as part of the Army of Occupation of Japan, under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Corporal Raeck was serving with Headquarters Company, 24th Infantry Division, as a mechanic, and was called to duty when the North Korean People’s Army launched an attack on the Republic of Korea in the south. A 540-man unit was organized on July 1, 1950 (known as Task Force Smith), and sent into Korea. This was the first U.S. engagement with North Korea. When they landed on Korean soil, they were ordered to block the main road to Pusan as far north as possible. What ensued has come to be known as the Battle of Osan. The task force was using antiquated weapons, each man was only allotted 120 rounds of ammunition, and yet they managed to delay a column of eight North Korean tanks and a second column of three tanks, with countless troops, for seven hours. The task force had to retreat, but provided the UN Forces with some time to deploy more troops to Korea.

As part of Headquarters Company, 24th Infantry Division, Milton was part of the first troops sent to the earliest battles of the Korean War between July 2 and Nov. 1, 1950, including Osan, Tajeon, and Pusan. Provided with substandard equipment, their mission was to stop or delay the North Korean Army from moving further south, and protect the Port of Pusan until further UN reinforcements arrived.

Milton received medals and other honors for his service with the Armed Forces. He received the Army of Occupation Medal with the Japan Clasp, Good Conduct Medal, Korean Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, three Bronze Campaign Stars, Korean War Service Medal from the Republic of Korea, and the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service between July 2 and Nov. 2, 1950 .

Milton never discussed his heroic role in the Korean War - when asked about this period in his life, he would simply reply "we just did what we were told to do."

Milton suffered injuries and other health issues resulting from his service in Korea and exposure to the elements there. He was sent to the Fort Knox U.S. Army Hospital in 1952, where he remained until his honorable discharge in 1954. While a patient at the hospital, Milton trained to become a surgical technician. This is where he met his future bride, Olga Hoell. Both worked under the direction of Colonel R. Townsend Artman.

Milton and Olga went back to their respective states of Wisconsin and New York after leaving Fort Knox, Ky. It would be three years before Olga sent Milton a Christmas card in 1957 and the friendship that began in Kentucky was renewed and blossomed into romance. Milton visited Olga in New York once. She visited him, of course chaperoned by her parents, in Wisconsin, once. And the next time they were together in New York , on Oct. 17, 1958, they were married.

Milton and Olga returned to Wisconsin to start their life together. Milton worked at American Motors from 1957 through 1965, before entering the U.S. Postal Service as a clerk at the Waukesha Post Office. Their first child, David, was born in 1963, and they decided to build a house together in Brookfield. In 1966, their daughter, Debra, was added to the family.

It was during this time that Olga discovered that the position of postmaster was newly opened to candidates based on merit; prior to this, they were assigned by appointment only. Milton applied, and became the first postmaster assigned based on merit in the State of Wisconsin.

Postmaster Raeck’s first position was at North Prairie in 1973. He then transferred to Allenton in 1977, and in 1983, he settled in at the Hubertus Post Office until he retired in 1990.

After retirement, Milton needed to earn his gambling/slot machine money, so he took part-time jobs with Pinkerton Security as a guard and Pick ‘n Save where he bagged groceries and visited with store patrons. They also went to Florida several times each year for extended stays to visit with family, and enjoy the sunshine.

In 2005, Olga suffered a debilitating stroke, and with the help of their children, Milton spent his days caring for Olga and managing the household and yard. He demonstrated his love for his wife daily and called her his "Little Angel."

Milton suffered a massive stroke on Feb. 28, 2009, and received the news that he had cancer on that same day. After a lengthy stay in the hospital, Milton returned home to be with his family, especially his "Little Angel." Weakened and debilitated by the stroke, he tragically succumbed to cancer. His constitution and strength of character remained in tact until that day when he left us to be with God.

Milton was not a man of many words, but his love was demonstrated with every action. He enjoyed fishing, country western music, working in the yard, Pabst Blue Ribbon and going to the casinos. He could often be found watching the news, and became engrossed as major historical events unfolded live on television. He loved American history, and he had a deep admiration for FDR and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Milton possessed a gentle, quiet strength and was never boastful. He was easy-going, and had a love of words, as he and Olga enjoyed crossword puzzles and word jumbles every day at breakfast. He was a loyal friend and maintained a friendship with Otis Kath for almost 80 years. Milton was selfless and always willing to lend a helping hand when needed. He was a devoted husband and father. He was an American hero.

He is dearly loved, and so very deeply missed.

Memorial service will be at his daughter’s home on Aug. 22, 2009. The family will greet relatives and friends after 2 p.m., with services at 3 p.m. Food and drink to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials to the American Stroke Association are appreciated.

The Schmidt Funeral Home of Jackson is serving the family. On-line guest book and condolences available at schmidtfuneralhome.com.