Walter Sedlmayer, U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy active - 1963-1968
U.S. Navy reserves - 1962-1963, 1968-1986
Walter Sedlmayer, U.S. Navy
Corpsman- 1st Class E-6 HM
Land Duty in Vietnam - Attached to a combat U.S. Marine Company whose assignment was to participate in search and destroy patrols along the DMZ (demilitarized zone). A Navy corpsman's duties were to administer the first possible aid, to keep the wounded stable and ready for helicopter evacuation, and to attend daily medical problems that arose in the field. These were issues such as malaria, jungle rot, fatigue, cuts and wounds from the jungle, rat bites and at times snake bites.
Vietnam DMZ I Corp - Da Nang, Phu Bai, Con Thien, Dong Ha, Ca Lu and Cam Lo
Sea duty: USS Chicago (C-G11). Worked in the ship's sick bay and the hospital. Duties were to give aid to those in need and in severe cases to keep patient stable until provisions could be made to transport to a larger naval medical facility.
Stateside duty: Provide medical care to military personnel and their families while working at a military hospital and aid station.
Duty stations: Great Lakes, Ill.; Receiving Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Newport Naval Hospital; Field Medical School, Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, USMC; Okinawa Camp Schwab; Vietnam I Corp DMZ Da Nang; Dong Ha, Quang Tri, Gio Lingh
Married: May 15, 1976 to Elizabeth (Rogers) at the Church of the Advent in Kenmore, N.Y.
Children: Joseph, Abigail, Rebecca
Grandchild: Hanna Marie Rexford
Walter Sedlmayer was born March 31, 1945 at Buffalo's Millard Fillmore Hospital. He is the son of Donald and Henrietta (Acker) Sedlmayer. He grew up in the Fillmore area of Buffalo. His father, Donald, worked at the Miller Wagon Works and also a ran a little construction business of his own.
His mother held the title and worked as a registered nurse in the Buffalo Hospital system. While growing up in Buffalo things were going well until his father was injured on the job. Since his grandfather lived in the Mayville area, the decision was made to move to Mayville because of the injury. The family's new address was South Erie Street, Mayville.
Sedlmayer started his education at the Mayville Elementary School. He enjoyed growing up in Mayville but at times missed the big city with all the buildings, people and events going on. This included the old train station, War Memorial Stadium and the zoo.
A few months before high school graduation, with the permission and signature of his parents, he joined the U.S. Naval Reserves in Jamestown. During the summer of 1962 he attended a summer boot camp at Great Lakes, Ill. He still was a senior in high school but he was the property of the U.S. government. At times it felt funny; on the one hand he was this high school kid and on the other a U.S. sailor ready to go if called.
Walter Sedlmayer walked up the stage steps to receive his high school diploma with the Mayville class of 1963. After graduation he picked up his first job, one that required very few qualifications and just a little training. He became a pin setter at the Mayville Bowl A Drome. He explained it was a job that always kept him on his toes never knowing which way the pins would be flying.
Seeing the invention of automatic pin setters around the corner and not wanting to be a professional pin setter, Sedlmayer decided to join the Navy, this time the active Navy. After he signed new papers he went to the Brooklyn Receiving Center and waited for an open billet for Corpsmen School. His opening came and he was sent to the Great Lakes Training in Illinois. After this graduation, Sedlmayer received orders for the Navy Hospital in Newport, Va. At Newport he worked at the hospital for two years. While enjoying duty in Virginia, things changed when he received his new orders for the FMF (Fleet Marine Force) Westpack (Vietnam). Here he was required to do six weeks of field hospital school before leaving the country.
He was also assigned training with a Marine Combat Co., which required some of the exact training that the new marines for Vietnam were taking. His new training station for Westpack training was the U.S. Marine Corp Base Camp Joseph J. Pendleton in sunny California. At his school he attended field hospital school. After completing his training he was assigned to the 2nd battalion, 5th marine regiment. With his orders in hand he headed to his new Marine unit at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. From there it was only hours before he was on a Piedmont Government contracted 707 airplane and landed in Da Nang, South Vietnam.
A tour in Vietnam was 13 months and 10 days long for most in Vietnam. While in Vietnam, his regiment was involved in action in the battle of Hue, search and destroy operations in the Que Son, Phu Bai and Dong Ha areas of the I Corp.
When Vietnam was over for Sedlmayer, he returned to Naval reserve status and attended his monthly obligations at the Dunkirk Naval Reserve Station on Point Drive North. When the facility closed, he attended meetings in Buffalo to extend his time of service and gain rank. In addition to serving in Naval reserves, he attended Fredonia State College and graduated in 1972. He had 24 years of naval service and retired from the reserve with the rank of HM1 (E6). He retired March 31, 1986 from a naval career that started April 3, 1962.
He married Elizabeth in 1976 and they purchased a home on Lambert Street in Fredonia. In 1974, Sedlmayer took a job at SUNY Fredonia where he worked in the custodial department until 2002 when he retired. A He has dedicated his time in retirement to his family and to the American Legion of which Fredonia Legion Post 59 is his home post.
Because of his dedication to the legion, its members and all legion posts, he worked his way up to the position of Post 59 Post Commander on more than one occasion. Along with that came the positions of Legion County Commander and District Commander. He always worked to help his fellow legionnaires. He also attended its national convention where he had the opportunity to present the needs and give the ideas of the legions from his district.
When not at the post or helping another legionnaire, he can be found playing chess in a room all by himself. The game of chess is conducted by having a board home and playing through the mail. Each one's next move is made when the envelope is opened and the players choice is played on a board each share with the same formations of sides. He claims he can have two or three games going at once. He said he has played with chess players in Belgium, Italy, Alabama, Illinois and Canada.
Walter Sedlmayer, U.S. Navy, to many he was a sailor, to a Marine he was hero. A hero for where he was and what he had done. Serving as a Navy corpsman attached to a combat Marine infantry unit in Vietnam meant that he was on call 24 hours a day, never knowing if an ambush was just around the bend or a 152M rocket was screaming in from the north. Another uncertainty was the jungle with its jungle rot, elephant grass and the rat bites. During the monsoon season, that could be a daily corpsman call along with burning off ticks or carefully pulling off leeches (blood suckers) from the new marines. (They would never tie the ties from the bottom of their pants that were designed to stop the snake or leech from going up the pant leg.) When things got bad, the corpsman had to make the decision of who he worked on first or who got sent back on the first chopper not knowing if a second was on the way. Anyone attending a Marine corp infantry unit reunion will easily see how respected the Navy corpsman is. For it wasn't for him, some could say they wouldn't be there.
It is an honor for me to write about the Navy corpsman because I also walked with them. The war was real. The movie "We Were Soldiers" (2002) starts with the French being overrun at Dien Bien Phu and a French soldier laying wounded on the ground. A North Vietnamese soldier with his rifle pointing at the French soldier looks at his commanding officer and asked "Should I kill him?" The Commanding Officer Gen. Giap looked at the soldier and said "Yes. Kill them all; then they will stop sending them." That attitude continued with the U.S. forces. Kill them all and they won't send anymore. We lost over 58,000-plus to that war. We also had over 330,000 wounded in action. Wounded soldiers that if not for the dedication of the Navy corpsmen and the Army medics could easily have been lost. Walter Sedlmayer is our Hero of the Week.
Welcome home Walter and Semper Fi.
Submitted by John Fedyszyn Vietnam Veteran