Leroy W. Spaeth
Biography: Leroy William Spaeth was born on July 28, 1916, in West Bend, Wisconsin. He was the son of Christian Johannes Spaeth and Anna Margret Novotny and attended local schools through the grammar levels. After his parent’s relationship ended, Anna remarried and had another son, William. Leroy’s enlistment record identifies that he worked in a canning and food preserving occupation prior to the war. He was also a member of the Wisconsin National Guard.
Service Time: Leroy entered the service on October 15, 1940, at Hartford, Wisconsin. He was eventually assigned to Company C of the 632nd Tank Destroyer Battalion, which was activated on December 3, 1941, at Camp Livingston, Louisiana. It was made up of Wisconsin National Guard Personnel of the 32nd Infantry Division.
The unit was originally organized as a Light Towed Battalion but was equipped with the M10 for combat. They shipped from the San Francisco Port of embarkation on April 22, 1942, arriving in Australia on May 12, 1942. They then shipped to New Guinea, landing on October 28, 1943, and after almost a year there, they shipped out again, landing in the Philippines on Oct. 20, 1944. The 632nd operated as an organic unit of the 32nd Division and went to Australia with the Division. They then fought with the 32nd at Aitape and Saidor and went into the battle for Leyte with the 1st Cavalry Division. They later rejoined the 32nd on Leyte. On Luzon, the 632nd was initially attached to the 13th Armored Group but subsequently served with 37th, 44th and 32nd Divisions.
While in Leyte, Leroy was able to see his half-brother William Schram, who was serving with the 382nd Infantry Regiment. William was later killed in January, 1945, during actions on Leyte.
During his time overseas, Leroy contracted malaria and left the service on July 23, 1945, at the rank of Sergeant. He received the American Defense Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.
Leroy returned home to Jackson, Wisconsin, but never recovered from the malaria which ultimately brought on his death, on January 4, 1946. He was buried in the Holy Angels Cemetery, in West Bend, WI. I want to thank Leroy’s cousin, Jim, for providing the information and photo for this tribute.