Appleton’s Touchmark showcases veterans over 90

They live at the same facility, both named Paul, both Army veterans but in two different wars
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 4:47 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2022 at 9:54 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Veterans of the armed forces live everywhere, but how often do you see two veterans over 90 years old living in the same area? On the same block? Even in the same building?

Touchmark Senior Living in Appleton hopes to showcase two veterans living there, sharing stories of the men who helped defend our country and our world.

These two men are both over 92, both served in the U.S. Army (in different divisions), and both are named Paul.

Paul Klemmer is the elder statesman at 97. He is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge as part of the Army’s 95th Infantry Division.

He said the thing he doesn’t like to remember are some of the atrocities he witnessed during World War II.

“It does stick out. It’s terrible because of, you start thinking about it, you don’t sleep well. So, I kind of avoid thinking about it,” Klemmer said.

Whatever memories Klemmer wouldn’t share publicly help to line his wall in the form of medals for his meritorious service.

And he likes being one of the younger guys when they all come back to reminisce about the old days.

“I’m 97. We have reunions every year. The 95th Division. they just had one in October, and surprisingly, a couple people a 100 years old showed up. But it was still a hundred people came for the reunion,” Klemmer said.

Paul Baldridge is the youngster at 92. He fought in the Korean War and was stationed overseas from 1951 to 1953. When officers were asked who could type, Baldridge raised his hand and was quickly named a clerk for his outfit. He says military service taught him discipline and duty.

But before going off to war, he had a decision to make: when to get hitched to his girlfriend at the time. They were married a couple of months before he was sent overseas.

He expressed some harrowing times during his military career but nothing that truly scarred him. Instead, after returning from the Korean War, he remembers coming home to a hero’s welcome.

“We were treated well. We were honored... to be a little repetitious... but not to the level of World War II. Everybody was a superhero when they came back.”

On Veterans Day, Baldridge doesn’t see himself as a hero but as one among many.

“It gives me a great deal of pride to be able to stand and say, ‘Yes, I’m one of them.’ And I look around at some of the other guys standing and, ‘I was there. You were there,’ anywhere, as long as we had that uniform on, and, yeah. I’m proud of that.”

Touchmark is an assisted-living facility, but both men are healthy and alert and don’t require a whole lot of assistance. Baldridge plays trumpet as part of the music group The Touchmark Trio. Klemmer was drinking a beer when we met him Friday. When he asked why he was drinking he replied, “I earned this one.”