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George Kinderman

WWII veteran recalls D-Day invasion

newspaper story in Oshkosh Daily Northwestern June 6, 1998

By Aura Smithers 

Oshkosh native took part in Utah Beach assault

    Pfc. George J. Kinderman had never been in combat before June 6, 1944. 

    Two years of training on land and water prepared the Oshkosh native for the D-Day attack, but the fear of death was in the back of his mind as he headed for a face to face battle with the Germans. 

    Kinderman, now 80 years old, was part of the first wave to attack Utah Beach during World War II on D-Day.

    For him, the anniversary is significant because it represents the day that many countries took a stand against Adolf Hitler's attempt to dominate not only Europe, but also the world.

    "They realized that the war would not end until they went in there and defeated Germany on their ground," he said. "I always feel that you owe something to your country and your country owes something to you."

    The assault on Utah Beach was among five beach attacks that began on June 6, 1944, in an attempt to liberate northwest Europe from German control. The Allied attack on the Normandy beaches in France included a huge offensive, with preliminary airdrops and six divisions. 

    Utah Beach was added to the initial invasion because the Allies needed a major port as soon as possible, and the beach would put the troops within 60 kilometers of Cherbourg, France, at the outset.

    "You'd gotten briefings and you knew just about every square inch of the beach," Kinderman said. "Their intention was to go in on the 'longest days.' There were 18 hours of daylight on June 4th,5th, and 6th, and it was a long day if you got hit, too."

    Kinderman said that in preparation for the assault, they practiced beach landings, trying to figure out the best way to get the men and gear from the launch boats to shore.

    "They finally decided the best method was to load up the boat and heave the whole thing over into the water with men and gear," he said.

    The man in charge of Kinderman's launch boat was in the Coast Guard and didn't want to stick around near shore for very long. He let the crew out early in waist-deep water and headed back to the main boat with a dismal shout of "good luck."

    The 4th Infantry Division, 7th Core, of the U.S. Army surveyed the beach and went in for the attack. Kinderman said that as soon as the bullets went flying past the men, they all were forced onto their bellies and had to crawl the rest of the way.

    "I got halfway up the beach and a shell landed behind me and a shell landed in front of me, and I knew I was next." he said. "But I just wanted to make it to my birthday on June 16th."

    Kinderman tried to avoid the bullets flying around him, but within a few seconds shrapnel hit him in the back and punctured his lung. He scrambled up to the sea wall and awaited help. 

    Because he was part of the first wave, many boats followed the attack with supplies and took wounded back to the main ship. Later that afternoon, Kinderman landed in England and went into surgery four days later.

    In December 1945, after working in English hospitals for a year and a half, he went home to Wisconsin. He returned to his job at Rockwell International Corp., where he eventually worked for 39 years. 

    He and his wife, Marion P. Kinderman, have been married for 55 years and raised their four children in Oshkosh. They have spent the past few years traveling, reading and enjoying their retirement.


Newspaper story in Oshkosh Daily Northwestern July 25, 1987

A personal View by Mary Martin, Executive Editor


    What had thirteen charter members and is still going strong?

    You would be half right if you said, "The United States of America."

    Another correct answer would be the Ohio Street Civic Association.

    The roots of the Ohio Street group go deep, though obviously not as far back as the Revolution. Organized April 13, 1933, to give merchants on the street a boost, the association quickly became a civic minded organization, dedicated to making Oshkosh a better place to live.

    Many present day members are sons and daughters  and grandchildren of the 13 original founders. 

    Names of the founding fathers are familiar, with descendents still living on the south side. Charter members included:

     Alfred Berger Sr., grocer; Al Beck, grocer; Harold Fischer, garage owner; Frank Granberg, Granberg Press; Gus Jeshke, tavern owner; Ted Spaedtke, tavern owner; Frank Jungwirth, tavern owner; Alois Kinatader and Alois Kinderman, co-operators of Nigl's Grocery; Otto Ilk, Kamm Sausage Co.; Joe Poklasny Sr., Poklasny Funeral Home; Rudolph Novotny, tavern operator; and Frank Sebora, grocer.

    Some present day members can trace ties back four generations. 

    Some even plan their vacations so they are present for the children's parade which has been annual event for the Ohio Street Civic Association for 54 years. 

    That's the way it is this year for the George Kinderman household.

    Terri Kinderman Amann, George and Marian's daughter, participated in the parade as a child. Her grandfather, Alois, was a charter member, and her father marched in the parade for a few years and then became a worker for the event, something he is still doing. Terri grew up and married and has two children, Matthew,8, and Meredith,5. The family lives in Cincinnati but Terri said she decided her children were old enough this year to be a part of the parade this Sunday. 

    Part of the reason she wanted Matthew and Meredith to participate is because of the great memories she has of family involvement in the Ohio Street Association. She and her sister, Julie, and brothers, Mark and Peter, all marched in the parade at one time or another. Terri remembers  spending part of every summer just planning what costume to wear or what float to make. 

    "It was a big deal when I was a kid and I wanted my children to feel what I remembered," she said.

    Each year the parade takes an unofficial theme.  This year, the 200th year of the United States Constitution makes a patriotic theme a natural. Parade organizers never know for sure what the theme will be. 

    (George) Kinderman said," We don't set any rules, but we do give awards for the most beautiful and original float. 

    Every youngster in the parade also gets a bag of goodies- something that has become a tradition with the association. 

    The parade will assemble at Sixth Avenue and Idaho street, march east on Fifth Avenue to Ohio Street and then South on Ohio, ending in South Park. The park is a focal point for the Ohio Street people to gather and is also the site of the picnic and games that are a part of the celebration. 

    Much of the money that the group has raised over the years has been used for improvements to South Park. Last year, the club netted $5000 which was spent upgrading the wading pool in the center of the park. The marble monument at the entrance to the park on Ohio Street was dedicated in 1948 to Oshkosh servicemen and women and was also a gift of the group.

    The many benches, playground equipment and shade trees in the park are a result of profits the group makes at the annual celebration. 

    Officers of the association this year are: Victor Meixensperger, president; James Sarres, vice president; Harold Matsche, treasurer; George Last, recording secretary and Warren Norkofski, financial secretary. Directors include: Don Potter, Henry Hanson, Richard Loos, Gerald Boushele, Robert Horton and Walter Ackerman.

    Oh yes, if you see Betsy Ross and Ben Franklin Sunday, you may also see a beaming mother, Terri Kinderman (Amann), reliving her days as an Ohio Street parade kid.


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