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BESTOWED HONOR

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Local WWII veteran receives medals in Wartburg decades after the war ends

By Joe King

W orld War II is long over, but a local veteran from that great conflict just recently received his medals of honor at a ceremony held in Wartburg.

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At 91, A.B. Freytag still doesn’t like to talk about what happened during his time in service to the country.

“I had known for years and years he was a World War Two veteran, but when I was older it came up that he served under General Patton,” said son and Morgan County Sheriff Glen Freytag. “We did hear a few parts of stories, but he just didn’t talk about it much.”

What is known about A.B. Freytag’s military career is that he served in the Company A 23rd Infantry Battalion 7th Armored Division in the war. That division, State. Rep. John Mark Windle said during his speech honoring A.B. Freytag, was part of the largest airborne operation in history, Operation Market Garden. The operation was an unsuccessful Allied military operation fought in the Netherlands and Germany in September of 1944 where forces attempted to strategically encircle the center of Germany’s industry, the Ruhr. Although the operation was ultimately not successful, Windle said it still played a key role in bringing the war to an end. He then thanked A.B. Freytag for his service and sacrifice in such a historic capacity.

“That was the crux of the war,” Windle said. “You are a great example for Morgan County. Thank you very much for what you’ve done for us. It’s a real pleasure to be here with you and your family.”

Also speaking at the event was State Sen. Ken Yager, who made a point of admiration of A.B. Freytag’s bravery.

“Just a week ago today, we would not have been voting if it was not for the bravery of Mr. Freytag in World War Two to stop the Nazi aggression,” Yager said. “We would not be able to speak freely today if it were not for the courage and willingness of Mr. Freytag to leave his family and his country.”

U.S. Senator Bob Corker was unable to attend the event, but sent a representative to read a letter in his place.

“As a Bronze Star recipient you set an outstanding example to us all,” Corker said in the letter. “Your sacrifice and service represent the absolute best our country has to offer. Words cannot express the appreciation I have for you and your service.”

The ceremony incorporated several other speakers who honored A.B. Freytag, including Bobby Stewart of Quality Hospice Care, who took the initiative to see that the local veteran would receive his medals after hearing the story in the family’s kitchen.

While making a visit to the family to discuss patient care, Stewart said A.B.’s wife Naomi told him about how the veteran never received his medals and had been wounded in battle. Stewart said Naomi Freytag said her husband refused to be awarded the Purple Heart and other medals because he did not want to leave his fellow soldiers in the battlefield. She then told Stewart when her husband was shot he told his family it was only a bee sting because he didn’t want them to worry.

Stewart found it a shame that such a hero did not receive his recognition and took action to correct it. Thursday’s ceremony was the culmination of those efforts.

For his valor and service in World War II, A.B. Freytag was awarded The Bronze Star, The Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp, The French Fourragere, The Belgian Fiureagere and The Presidential Unit Citation.

He was also presented with a state flag, book and a certificate of appreciate from Davis Funeral Home.

“I appreciate what they’ve done for me,” A.B. Freytag said after shedding a few tears at the ceremony. “I’m just glad they picked me to serve in the army.”

A request for a Purple Heart for A.B. Freytag is still in process, but was not ready for the ceremony.

After his service in the army A.B. Freytag joined the workforce and eventually retired from the water plant at Brushy Mountain Prison. He lives in Wartburg with his wife Naomi and has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

But as his life carries on, so does his legacy and service. His eldest son, Allen Freytag, said his first memories of his father was a picture of his dad.

“From the time he was over there my dad was a picture,” Allen Freytag said. “When he came home that picture of him was still my dad. It took me a while to adjust. He was still fighting the war when he came home.”