WW II vet, D-Day jumper Joe Bredeson dead at 96


GREENVILLE — A local World War II veteran who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day has passed away.

E. E. “Joe” Bredeson, age 96, of Greenville, Ohio, passed away on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at the Brethren Retirement Community in Greenville. Bredeson was born November 20, 1920, on a farm near Madison, Wisconsin, to the late Carl and Jennie (Anfinson) Bredeson.

In December 2015, Bredeson, a Purple Heart and Silver Star awardee, gave a presentation at Greenville Public Library detailing memories of his service as a member of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which took part in the D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944.

Bredeson enlisted in the Army in 1940 after only one year of college at the University of Wisconsin. Originally hoping to become a fighter pilot, Bredeson trained for four years with British commandos before transferring to the 82nd Airborne Division. He then was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (the “Screaming Eagles”), which, along with the 82nd, made the initial assaults behind enemy lines near Utah Beach during the D-Day landings.

Bredeson told the gathering that after making his parachute jump from a C-47, he landed in 3 to 5 feet of water, an effect of the Germans breaking area dikes to flood the landscape. He said he later awoke to the sight of a cow eating hay under which he was hidden from nearby German patrols.

“A farmer and his wife hid me in their barn,” he said. “Everyday when they would come to milk the cows, they would bring me food and water. I couldn’t go to the bathroom, but under those circumstances, it was paradise.”

Eventually, he was able to reunite with his unit and help them continue the drive to liberate Europe.

He related a story about being in a foxhole with a buddy, who was shot in the head and died instantly right beside him.

“It comes back to me now and then,” he said, pausing to collect his emotions.

Bredeson said he found it strange to be trying to kill German soldiers who were similar in age, saying, “We’ve got to be crazy, shooting boys the same age. It took me two years [after the war] to get my mind back.”

Nonetheless, despite the real bullets flying, he and his comrades developed a closeness difficult to fully describe.

“When you fight for one another, you become brothers — blood brothers.”

Reflecting back on those times, Bredeson says his generation felt exceedingly confident they would emerge from the war victorious.

“We had God, we had Roosevelt, we had the best food, the best guns, the best commanders, we had the best of everything — how in the hell could we lose? And I hope everyone in this room knows that,” he said.

After the war, Bredeson worked as a civilian with the U.S. Graves Commission in Europe. He met his wife Denise Charpentier, a Frenchwoman, who returned with him to the United States. Their marriage lasted 62 years until her death in 2007. The couple and their children moved to Greenville in 1961 where he was the manager of the Swift Fertilizer Plant (now Conagra) until 1985. He was a member of the First Assembly of God Church in Greenville.

In addition to his parents, Bredeson was preceded in death by his wife, a brother, Glenn Bredeson, and a half brother, Albert Kvammen.

Visitation will be Saturday, September 9 from 10 to 11 a.m. at Oliver Floyd Funeral Home in Greenville. A Celebration of Life service will take place following visitation. Burial will be at Abbottsville Cemetery with graveside military honors conducted by the Greenville Veterans Honor Guard.

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Decorated World War II veteran Joe Bredeson discussed his military career at a December 7, 2015, Greenville Public Library event. Bredeson, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. He died September 5 in Greenville.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/09/web1_bredeson-001-PRINT.jpgDecorated World War II veteran Joe Bredeson discussed his military career at a December 7, 2015, Greenville Public Library event. Bredeson, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star. He died September 5 in Greenville. Erik Martin | The Daily Advocate

In this February 20, 2017, Daily Advocate photo, Abraham Lincoln reenactor John Cooper greets World War II veteran Joe Bredeson during a Greenville Public Library event.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/09/web1_Bredeson-0021-PRINT.jpgIn this February 20, 2017, Daily Advocate photo, Abraham Lincoln reenactor John Cooper greets World War II veteran Joe Bredeson during a Greenville Public Library event. Carolyn Harmon | The Daily Advocate
Parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with 101st Airborne

By Erik Martin

emartin@dailyadvocate.com

The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com