F. John Hoeppner

Ensign F. John Hoeppner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Edmund Hoeppner of 305 Garfield Avenue, who recently received his commission, is now serving at the United States Naval Construction Training Center at Camp Peary, near Williamsburg, VA. 

Mrs. Hoeppner is living at nearby Hampton, VA with Mrs. John Richardson, her sister-in-law. Major John Richardson is, at present, serving in Australia.

Lt. F. J. Hoeppner in Assault Force During Invasion
Lieutenant (junior grade) F. John Hoeppner, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Hoeppner, 305 Garfield Avenue, was a member of a United States Naval crew in the American assault force which invaded France. This was his first action with the enemy.

Lieutenant Hoeppner was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant from the rank of Ensign on May 1, 1944.

His wife, Mrs. Maurine Hoeppner, lives at 1205 Graham Avenue.

Before entering the Navy, Lieutenant Hoeppner was an architectural engineer with the Austin Company and Arthur E. Rowe, Cleveland, Ohio. He was graduated from the University of Illinois in 1939.

Written by Harold (Diz) Kronenberg

John Hoeppner, a young naval officer from Eau Claire, took part in the Normandy invasion on D-Day. He and Don Sherwood were members of the 111th Naval Construction Battalion (Seabees). It was their responsibility to put ashore the tanks, jeeps, and guns and to establish a beachhead in preparation for the proposed crash through the mighty Weremacht defenses. 

The 111th Seabees Battalion was a tough outfit, noted for artistic cussing and the cocky claim that they were the "first to land and the last to leave," something that could not often be disputed. They were a rough-and-ready crew with a job to do, and they accomplished that job on the Omaha Beach, despite the intensity of the German resistance. 

Hoeppner told me in an interview that "about the only peril we didn't encounter was the much-expected Luftwaffe. An occasional Messerschmitt or Focke Wuffe made an appearance, but not in any formidable numbers."

The much- awaited invasion of Europe was launched in Normandy on June 6, 1944. Known as D-Day, this date can be considered the beginning of the end for the Nazis; many soldiers were brought in on the Allied side to strengthen its forces, including both combat veterans and those who had not yet seen action in Europe. 

Lieutenant John Selmer of the 101st Airborne Division (the Screaming Eagles) was killed just four days after he went into combat near Omaha Beach. He was buried first in the American cemetery at St. Mere Egilse but later moved to the American cemetery on Omaha Beach. John's brother Bob was the Captain of an aircraft carrier before he retired from the service. The family ran the Selmer Insurance Agency in Eau Claire. 

Richard J. Lewis, Sr., first president of the American National Bank of Eau Claire, reached the rank of Commander in the Navy; in preparation for D-Day, his duties included arranging the shipping of supplies to England. Lewis's military career began during World War I when he was a Second Lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps, serving in the particularly dangerous position of balloon observer. Balloon observers had a survival rate of only 10%. Lewis's son Dick was a B-25 Billy Mitchell bomber pilot in the South Pacific. 

John Hoepner's brother-in-law, John Richardson, had an enviable military career as a B-26 pilot in the South Pacific.