Paul S. Vacho died May 3, 2016 at age 96. Paul spent his early childhood in Milwaukee until his father moved the family to Ladysmith in the late 1920’s to help with the family dairy farm. The difficult years of the Great Depression were spent doing hard physical labor on the farm and attending a one-room country school house. In the late 1930’s he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps for one year then enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1939.
He was among the earliest volunteers for the “parachute troops” and, as a Staff Sergeant, was part of the original training cadre for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment which became famous many years later as the “Band of Brothers” regiment. He knew personally many of the men depicted in the book and movie from their earliest days training to become paratroopers at Camp Toccoa, Georgia.
During World War II, he served as First Sergeant in the Headquarters Company of the Second Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. As a paratrooper, he jumped in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and in Operation Market Garden in Holland, perhaps better known as the “Bridge Too Far” operation. For his actions at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge, he was awarded two Bronze Stars for Valor and was promoted to Second Lieutenant. He also participated in seizing and occupying Hitler’s “Eagles Nest” at Berchtesgaden and served with the unit for the duration of the war. He was a lifetime member of the 101st Airborne Division Association, courtesy of the men who served with him. His old 2nd Battalion buddy, the late Gordon King, described him as “unflappable”.
After the war, he married his sweetheart Eleanor Filo and they began raising their family which would eventually total seven children, starting in Milwaukee then buying a house in Menomonee Falls in the 1950’s. Paul enjoyed his large backyard garden, growing fresh vegetables for his family and a flower garden for his beloved Eleanor. Sadly, in 1983, Eleanor passed away at the age of 59 from complications of severe rheumatoid arthritis and kidney failure. Paul never remarried. As a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he could always be relied on to help no matter what the problem might be. He could fix anything in the car, house, basement, garage or yard. In 35 years of working for the Milwaukee Transit Authority as a driver, he was never late – even in the worst weather a Wisconsin winter could throw at him. He donated blood religiously to the Red Cross until he was physically unable to do so. He was Mr. Reliable under any and all circumstances.
Paul is survived by his sister Valerie and two brothers Milan and Steve. He was preceded in death by five brothers: Andy, Laddie, Bill, Tony and Emil. Two other siblings died as infants.
He is also survived by his 7 children and their spouses: Dan (Deanna), Mary (Jim) Roseborough, Christine Bickelhaupt, Paul, Jim (Charlene), Ellen (Steven) Reed, and Annie (Ray) Krahn.
In addition he is survived by several grandchildren and their spouses: Danny (Kathy), Peter (Dina), Dana (Jason) Heintz, Steve (Gosia) Bryant, Jamie (Trevor) Knisbeck, Steven Elliott, Erin (Kevin) Stueber, Baltimore, Mazie, and Warren (Hsien-Yang) Roseborough. Finally, he is survived by his 15 great-grandchildren: Zoie, Sidney, Elijah, Ruza, Ethan, Sam, Anna Bae, Dean, Kyleigh, Marcus, Lauren, Daniel, Jackson, Cora and Noelle – plus numerous nephews, nieces, cousins and in-laws. He loved them all.
It is requested that those wishing to honor Paul with a memorial, please perform a special act of kindness for their family or others.