Minster soldiers honored for sacrifice


By Sandy Rose Schwieterman - For the Sidney Daily News



Minster Boy Scouts assist in the posting of colors during Sunday’s service honoring four Minster soldiers.

Minster Boy Scouts assist in the posting of colors during Sunday’s service honoring four Minster soldiers.


Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

Bill Meiring, Kevin Schmiesing, and Norb Otting perform the placement of wreath during Sunday’s ceremony honoring four Minster soldiers.


Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

James Harting unveils the black granite marker that honors Cpl. Vernon J. Seger during Sunday’s ceremony. Also honored were Cpl. Walter J Shulte, Pfc. William Thieman Jr. and Sgt. Anthony L Knapke.


Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

MINSTER – Punctuated by the staccato boom of a 21 gun salute, about 300 spectators at a Sept. 18 dedication ceremony heard how four soldiers from Minster had served with bravery and valor, some who gave their lives in defense of their country.

Sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion Post 387, the event was held at the Centennial Veterans Memorial Park, where black marble plaques detailing the men’s sacrifices were installed on the current Veterans Memorial, one each for World Wars I and II, and the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Before the unveiling, speakers saluted the sacrifices that soldiers made to defend the United States.

Minster Mayor Dennis Kitzmiller said in his 27 years as mayor he had spoken to many groups about great things they had done for the community. “But this one is the most touching to me.” Kitzmiller said these four men had done their duty to serve their country, some paying the ultimate sacrifice and that it was an honor to speak about it that day.

Another speaker, Randy Matthews, Son of the American Legion District commander and veteran of the Air Force, also asked the crowd to remember those who came home but were damaged by their experience. “I recall one time, we went to visit a vet in Van Wert, and we had a nice conversation. I got a call within the hour after I left that our vet friend had barricaded himself in the house, thinking the Viet Cong were outside his door.”

In preparation for this event, the Minster Historical Society helped Jim Harting, the original planner of the dedication, to find and contact family members still in the area so that they could not only attend, but also participate in the dedication.

A family member of each of the four men were asked to unveil the plaque dedicated to their soldier relative as a narrator read what each plaque told about the soldier’s contributions and sacrifices during war.

As family member Jim Harting uncovered the plaque for Pfc. Vernon Seger, who was killed in Vietnam on Oct. 24, 1969, the narrator read that Seger was on a reconnaissance patrol when his unit came under hostile rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire and were out-numbered by the North Vietnamese force. Seger saw a support vehicle hit, wounding all the crewmen. He called in for assistance, then went in to assist the wounded, laying down a barrage of gunfire, protecting his comrades from further injury while they waited for extraction. During the continued barrage, Seger lost his life. For his heroics in saving the lives of his comrades, he was awarded the Silver Star.

As family member Norm Otting uncovered the plaque for Sgt. Anthony L. Knapke, it was related that during his service in WWII he served in both in France and German. After being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, he was honorably discharged in April 1946. Hearing a call to duty, Knapke re-enlisted in 1949 and by June 1950 he was in North Korea, where he was taken prisoner in July 1950. Knapke was forced to march in the North Korean Tiger Death March and was killed by a guard in November 1950. His remains were never found.

As family member Les Westerheide uncovered the plaque for Pfc. William Thieman, the narrator noted he was the only Minster resident who died in action during WWII. He was wounded in Germany on Dec. 14, 1944 and died after transport to Belgium for treatment. His remains were returned to Minster and buried in the German Protestant cemetery in New Bremen on Dec. 14, 1947. In honor of his memory and service, in 1946 the Minster VFW was formed and named the William Thieman Jr., Post 6432.

As family member Deb Bornhorst uncovered the plaque for Cpl. Water Schulte, who served in WWI, it was noted that his heavy artillery unit was sent to the front in September 1919, fighting battles in the Hesse Woods, the River Meuse, and the Argonne Forest. He was assigned to the army of occupation and followed the enemy through Luxemborg into Kleinmaischeid, Germany, were he contracted pneumonia and died on Feb. 17, 1919.

Master of Ceremonies Jerry Huelsman asked the crowd to remember the bravery and valor of all those who went to fight for democracy over the history of the country. He added there were 300 veterans buried in Minster cemeteries now.

At the ceremony’s close, the Kuenning family offered an echoing variation of taps.

Other portions of the event included a medley of patriotic tunes by the St. Augustine Men’s Choir, posting of the flag by Minster Boy Scouts, and placement of a wreath by Bill Meiring, Kevin Schmiesing, and Norb Otting. The 21 gun salute was by the Minster American Legion and VFW. The Rev. Ken Schnipke gave the invocation.

Sponsors for the event, which helped pay for the plaques and other costs, included the Minster Sons of the American Legion Post 387, Minster American Legion Post 387, Minster VFW Post 6432, Minster Journeyman’s Club, Minster Fraternal Order of Eagles, Minster Service Club, Minster Village Council, Western Ohio True Value Hardware, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Westerheide, Joseph Harting, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Bruns, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Ripploh, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Luthman, and Mr. and Mrs. James Harting.

Minster Boy Scouts assist in the posting of colors during Sunday’s service honoring four Minster soldiers.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/09/web1_DSC_1049.jpgMinster Boy Scouts assist in the posting of colors during Sunday’s service honoring four Minster soldiers. Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

Bill Meiring, Kevin Schmiesing, and Norb Otting perform the placement of wreath during Sunday’s ceremony honoring four Minster soldiers.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/09/web1_DSC_1065.jpgBill Meiring, Kevin Schmiesing, and Norb Otting perform the placement of wreath during Sunday’s ceremony honoring four Minster soldiers. Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

James Harting unveils the black granite marker that honors Cpl. Vernon J. Seger during Sunday’s ceremony. Also honored were Cpl. Walter J Shulte, Pfc. William Thieman Jr. and Sgt. Anthony L Knapke.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/09/web1_DSC_1102.jpgJames Harting unveils the black granite marker that honors Cpl. Vernon J. Seger during Sunday’s ceremony. Also honored were Cpl. Walter J Shulte, Pfc. William Thieman Jr. and Sgt. Anthony L Knapke. Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News

By Sandy Rose Schwieterman

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.