Uncle Gunk, my Vietnam Veteran!


Butch and siblings
Butch and siblings



Frederick John Fischer, Jr.  4  Dec 1939 – 7  May 1999

I remember one morning when I was young (probably about 4-5 years old). We lived in Chicago in a two flat. My family lived on the first floor and my paternal Grandma lived on the second floor. Convenient set up for my Dad and Step Mother, built-in babysitter 24/7! On this one morning, I remember being upstairs at Grandma’s, looking out a window which looked down on our yard. This morning, I remember telling my Grandma that there was a “man” sleeping in our yard. She came to the window, looked out, laughed and told me “that’s no man, that’s your Uncle Butch!” He was wrapped completely in a sheet, could not even see his head. I have no clue how I knew he was a man! He just loved the out doors and that meant sleeping there as well.

Uncle Butch was always the silent type. He never had much to say, and when he did, you listened! He went about his business and did not get involved with others, if it did not have anything to do with him. He was not involved. Being the silent type, Butch was more of a loner. Handled things on his own, by himself. As a young adult, I found it strange that friends showed up to his funeral. I did not know that he had friends, this man was always to himself. He even worked for a friend of the family on Sundays, doing security at a closed Restaurant. I remember asking him why he did this Sunday job and his reply was it is quite there and no one is there to bother him. He must have been extremely comfortable with himself, to spend all his time this way.

I am not the oldest or youngest of the nieces/nephews for Butch. He was one of seven children from two different marriages. So you can just imagine the number of nieces and nephews he had. My California cousins, Tim and Tom gave him the nickname of Uncle Gunk when they were little boys, which stuck with him until the day he died. Even today when we talk about him, Gunk is the name we use. Which starts the conversation with a good hearty laugh!  One day, I will have to remember to get the story behind the nick name (all I remember is at has something to do with a trip to the grocery store).

Butch joined the service (I believe the Air Force) when he was under 17 and was sent home to wait until he was of age. As soon as 18 hit, he re-enlisted  (I believe in the Army) and was sent off to Vietnam. While in Vietnam, Butch met and fell in love with a women he wanted to marry when he got home. Due to the times,  he was told it was unacceptable and he did not go through with it. He never married, or I believe dated for that matter. When he died in 1999, he still had the picture on his wall of the women he loved. How sad, to go your whole life, in love with one person, and not have her there with you.  How lonely he must have been.

Besides the women he left behind after Vietnam, Butch also had a love for Cigarettes, Beer, his dog Gar, and crossword puzzles. Gar, was very dear to his heart, he took the dog everywhere with him. I don’t remember much about Gar, except that he scared me as a child. He spent many hours at our kitchen table with a cigarette in his mouth, a beer on the table, the newspaper crossword puzzle in front of him and a pen in his hand. I do not believe he ever asked someone to help him with the puzzles.

Butch spent the later part of his years living with his sister Betty, which is where he passed on May 7, 1999.




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