Richard L Schoennoehl
Biography: Richard Leonard "Dick" Schoennoehl was born on Nov. 11, 1917, in South Dakota. He was the youngest of 7 children. When he was 14 months old, his mother died and he went to live at the Boys Town orphanage in Nebraska. At age 13, he ran away but because of the Great Depression, he lived in the streets of the Midwest. He caught the eye of a boxing trainer named "Dick" who trained him to box in the Golden Gloves tournaments of 1934-1936. He left boxing to play pro football for two years in the early stages of its resurrection. Dick went to work in the Civilian Conservation Corps in which he led a revolt against the unfair and inhumane working conditions. At the age of 21, he moved to Portland, Oregon, and took a job working for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Service Time: Dick enlisted in the Army on March 15, 1942 in Multnomah County, OR, and was placed in the 607th Tank Destroyer Battalion. On May 20, 1943, he was transferred to the 6th TD Group and is listed on their payroll roster of July 28, 1943, while they were at Camp Ibis, California, and the Desert Training Center. He is also listed on the wooden shoes, dated August 1944, I received from the family of Clarence Dick. He is listed in the Morning Reports for the unit in June of 1945.
After leaving the Army, he returned to Portland and his job with the railroad. He met Wilma H., born Oct. 15, 1919, and married her in 1948. They had three sons and their marriage lasted for over 40 years, until Wilma's death on Apr. 30, 1989. During his working career, Dick became a Shop Steward, a Union Labor Organizer and a highly respected representative of the working man. He lived in Milwaukie, OR, a suburb of Portland, for some period of time. Dick passed away on Jan. 21, 1997, and was buried the Williamnette National Cemetery, Happy Valley, Clackamas County, OR.
The photo above right shows Dick, at home with his family, in about 1958. Shown is his wife Wilma and sons Dave, left, with Michael on the right. I want to thank Dick's son, Dave, and his wife, Diane, for much of the information provided here.
Research: An interesting artifact provided to me with this information from the family was a copy of the "Muster on the Elbe" program. You can see good scans of my copy of the program in the PLACES section of the site, then choose MUSTER ON THE ELBE. What's interesting about Dick's copy of the program is that he has signatures of many of the important attendees. In particular is Lt. Gen. W.H. Simpson, 9th Army Commander; Maj. Gen. A.C. Gillem, XIII Corps Commander; Maj. Gen. Frank A. Keating, 102d Inf. Div. Commander; Maj. L.E. Bumgarner; Maj. D.B. "Woody" Varner; Maj. T.B. Sebastian and Evelyn Ames who Dick identified as a Carnation Hour singer. Along with the signatures, a few of the signers mention the steak that they had. I can only assume that Dick was involved with either cooking the steaks or serving the food. Dick has his own hand-written notes with each of the signatures. They are very difficult to read but he mentions how good a leader Gen. Simpson was and how good a man Gen. Gillem was. He also identifies that Maj. Sebastian was his boss. I can't be sure but I can guess that Maj. Sebastian was in charge of the food or those that were serving. Maj. Sebastian was actually the same Temple Brown Sebastian that was in the 6th TD Group back at it's inception. I have been in contact with the Sebastian family and was informed that Temple went on to command a tank battalion. I am curious if Dick knew Temple from when he was originally in the unit. If he didn't know him, certainly some of the other members of the unit would have.