Veteran joins VFW at 96
He says it feels good to join
By Angie Landsverk
The newest member of Weyauwega’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post is also its oldest member.
That member is 96-6ear-old Louis Motzko, who joined Post 10407 on Nov. 14.
The World War II veteran said he had not previously joined a post because no one had ever asked him to.
“Leon was the first one,” Motzko said.
He was referring to Leon Maierhafer, who is the post’s commander.
“I can’t believe no one asked him,” Maierhafer said.
Maierhafer has known Motzko for years.
“I knew him long before I was in the VFW,” he said.
Motzko’s daughter, Linda Kiecker, teaches at St. John’s Lutheran School, in East Bloomfield, and Maierhafer attends that church.
“He and his wife would vist and sit in the back of church,” Maierhafer said. “I never knew he was a veteran until I heard the stories.”
That was recently after Motzko began spending more time in Wisconsin with Kiecker and her husband Michael.
“This past February, he had pneumonia,” she said.
They did not think he would make it.
“We brought him here,” Kiecker said. “He’s the picture of health. He gained 14 pounds, has perfect blood pressure.”
Motzko grew up in Staples, Minnesota.
He now splits his time between both states and joined St. John’s Lutheran Church.
After Maierhafer began hearing stories about Motzko’s service in World War II, he asked him if would like to join the local VFW post.
That was late last summer.
Last week, Motzko did.
“I just thought it might be a good idea,” he said.
Motzko was 21 when he was drafted into World War II.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1942-1947 and was part of the 10th Armored Division.
Motzko was a half-track driver.
“It was like a tank,” he said.
There were usually six to eight people in it with him.
Motzko did his basic training at Fort Benning in Georgia and headed overseas from New Jersey.
From England, he went to France and then Belgium and Germany.
Motzko was at the Battle of Bastogne in Belgium in December 1944.
“We were about 100 miles from there. One night, the company commander came into the resting area and said, ‘Load up.’ He said we were going on a parade to a city that was about 10 miles from there,” he said.
Motzko said he knew something was wrong when they went through that city and never stopped.
“We got beyond that city, and then he let us know the Germans had broke through, and we were going to stop them. We drove all through the night. The next day, we got into Luxembourg. From there, we went to Arlon Highway,” he said. “We had no idea where the enemy was. Obviously, the company commander didn’t even know.”
German troops hid in the woods off the highway.
“I was making breakfast off the highway. All of a sudden, there was machine gunfire flying over my head,” Motzko said.
He dropped down to the ground.
Because the ground was frozen, he could not dig a hole to go into it.
Motzko went back to his half-track.
“I couldn’t see the enemy, but I could just about tell where it was coming from,” he said. “I shot 30, 40 or 60 rounds. They quit shooting at me. I don’t know if I hit them, scared them or they gave up.”
Motzko said, “Shortly after that, one of our tanks shot at them. One of our tanks got hit. In a few minutes, another tank got hit and caught fire.”
From where he was, he did not see anyone come out of the tank that was hit.
Motzko drove his half-tank there, thinking he would be shot at.
He was not shot at and saw four or five survivors from what he believes was the first tank that had been hit.
“I picked them up. I carried morphine in my belt, gave it to them and carried them to an aid station about one mile away,” he said.
Around Dec. 25, the weather cleared, and U.S. fighter planes came in, Motzko said.
“In a matter of weeks, they were back into Germany. They left their tanks behind. They had no gas to drive them,” he said.
After the war, Motzko joined the military police as an investigator.
When his commanding officer asked him if was interested in the job, “I told him there were other gentlemen of higher rank,” Motzko said. “He said, ‘But I want you.’ I went along with it.”
Motzko liked the work and said, “I made a few arrests.”
When he returned home, he started working at Whirlpool, in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was employed there for 36 years.
Motzko married and had four children – one daughter and three sons.
His service in World War II inspired one of his sons to serve as well.
He was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and then served in the U.S. Navy for 32 years, Kiecker said.
Motzko has 11 children and 12 great-grandchildren.
Kiecker says she has a lot of fun with her father, and there are plans to travel overseas.
“We’re getting a passport for him,” she said. “He’s a great traveler.”
In regard to becoming a member of the VFW, he sees it as an organization that does a lot of good for people.
Maierhafer said the local post has about 65 members.
It meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, in Weyauwega.
Others interested in becoming members may simply attend a meeting or contact Maierhafer at 920-407-1937.
Since joining, it did not take long for Motzko to volunteer in the community.
He has already signed up to ring bells for the Salvation Army this holiday season.