Veteran of the Month: Fred Schettenhelm


By Milan Eagle media

Fred Schettenhelm was born in Dearborn, MI on a farm. His family, originally from Germany, farrning operations goes back 5 generations. He has 2 sisters and 1 brother. His family moved to Milan in 1955. Fred graduated from Saline High School.
Fred was the first member of his family to be in the military, he was drafted into the United States Army in 1962.and completed his basic training in Ft. Knox, KY. Fred’s next assignment took him to Ft. Gordon, GA., near Augusta, GA. After a couple of months in Military Police Training he was transferred to Ft. Bragg, NC to the 503rd Military Police Platoon. His job consisted of regular police duties and patrolling the base, honor guard, which involved 3 states and he was trained in riot control.
In 1962, the University of Mississippi in Oxford accepted Mr. James H. Meredith, a 29-year-old Air Force veteran. Mr. Meredith’s admission marked the first desegregation of a public educational institution in Mississippi. Mobs of students and adults started rioting, throwing bottles and rocks and iron pipes. Most appeared to be Ole Miss students, they were soon joined by students from other universities and colleges in this area. Thousands of soldiers and guardsmen and deputy United States marshals were called in to stop the violent demonstrations. The first unit of combat military policemen called up by the President was Company A of the 503rd Military Police Battalion, from Fort Bragg, N.C. Because Fred’s platoon was trained in riot control they were there to break up the riots, maintain law and order and escort Mr. Meredith to his classes. Fred was the MP escort for Mr. Meredith, the first black man to attend the University of Mississippi. He said before they arrived 2 US Marshalls had been killed, the people were really behaving crazy, throwing rocks, they didn’t want Mr. Meredith in school there. After his unit left Mississippi, the National Guard took over and things kinda settled down.
Discharged in 1964 Fred left NC and returned to MI to resume his farm operation. His father had been taking care of his farm while he was in the Army. The next year, 1965, Fred married and later his son Michael and daughter Julie were born.
Fred continued to farm and in 1978 he added equipment to his business. He moved to his present farm and lived in a trailer and over 50 plus years he built his house and all the grain bins. He said even the kids, Michael and Julie, helped assemble the grain bins. Michael farms the 25 hundred acres with him and because of the internet customers come from all over to purchase farm equipment. Two grandsons, Austin, an engineer with Ford and Colin, a student at MSU studying Agronomics, still help on the farm. Daughter Julie lives in FL where she works at the Univ. of Florida.
Fred enjoys good music, history, anything farm related, westerns and war movies. He has a fantastic tractor collection, which he said he’s already downsized. Over the years Fred’s been involved in various boards in York Township and currently part of the Parks Committee. He is a longtime member and usher of Immaculate Conception.
He said the military is a good experience for any young person – so many things you can learn – even though he didn’t want to go, he learned so much plus he’s never been exposed to so many different kinds of people and he learned how to deal.
Just as quickly as he’d stopped working and came inside for the interview, once over, he quickly put his work boots and coat back on and he was outside again to continue working, stopping briefly for a quick photo in front of his massive grain bins.

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