Special to ACN & Times-Press
The following was written by Jerry Mueller in remembrance and honor of his twin brother, Sgt. Tom R. Mueller, Company C, 1st Battalion, 26th infantry 1st Infantry Division
Army Sgt. 1.C. Tom R. Mueller was the first Seymour soldier to lose his life in the Vietnam War.
Tom was raised on a dairy farm seven miles northwest of Seymour. He graduated from Seymour high school in 1965 and started working at Outagamie Producers making cheese. In the fall of 1965, Tom got a job working at Appleton Coated Papers. He loved spending time with family, partying with friends, and driving his black 1955 Chevy Bel Air. Life was good!
In November of 1967, he was drafted into the US Army and went to boot camp. He came home, on leave, for a couple of weeks. On April 23, 1968, our family watched him board a plane at Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay. Tom Mueller was off to the war in Vietnam. The good life he knew was gone! He now had to learn how to adapt to a totally foreign culture, environment, and brutal way of life!
In the beginning, things seemed calm. In his first letter home he wrote, “I see no signs of a war, we go on patrol and have seen nothing.”
But things Tom and his comrades would soon witness, experience, and endure, truly made him a hero. Tom did these things so that he and the men he fought with would have a chance to come home.
Later, in one of his letters, he talked about a time when they were being ambushed. “Everybody was shooting and running. I froze, then started firing my machine gun. When it was over a man was shaking my hand saying you are going to get a medal for this! In reality, I was just too scared to run!”
On Feb. 1, 1969, this farm boy from Wisconsin was not shooting at tin cans with his BB gun, he was fighting a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Tom was a squad leader on a recon operation six miles West of Ben Cat. At 4:30 in the afternoon, his company was attacked by a large, well trained enemy. They used rocket-propelled grenades, small arms and automatic weapons against the much smaller U.S Army unit. There were casualties. Tom learned that one of his friends was lying injured in enemy territory. He did not hesitate to volunteer to try and evacuate his friend. While he provided cover by rushing the enemy position and attacking with his machine gun, other members of the squad were able to rescue the wounded man. During this heroic effort, Sgt. Tom Mueller died! An enemy bullet took his life on the jungle floor in Vietnam. He had been scheduled to come home in April.
Sgt. Tom Mueller received two bronze stars for bravery including a Bronze Star (Second Oak Leaf Cluster) for his heroism that day.
This same type of story could be told by a thousand different people, for a thousand different soldiers. But, this soldier was so special to me. This story means so much to me because Sgt. Tom Mueller was my twin brother.
We owe every single person in the military a debt of gratitude for our freedoms and our way of life. On this Memorial weekend let us all remind ourselves, “Freedom doesn’t come free!”
Note: Tom’s parents were Elmer and Viola Mueller who farmed on CTH X in the Town of Cicero. His family included brothers Allen (Butch), Bonnie, Dan, Jay and twin brother Jerry.