Melvin John Freise
28 Jan 2004
I considered Melvin John my best friend from high school (Venice Public H.S., class of 1968). We and other friends spent a lot of time playing back alley basketball and vacant lot touch football near his house in Venice, Ill, on the banks of the Mississippi across from St. Louis. He had one of the most unusal shots I've ever seen, with legs spread wide in a kind of squat and bringing the ball up from low in front of his body with both hands to release with a two-handed push shot from about head level. He was proud of his Catholic grade school (St. Marks) basketball playing days and made note that he was one of the leading scorers on the "B" team. He made two great, wooden backboards in shop class, as I recall, and he mounted one in the alley behind his home on Robin Street. Johnny talked about getting a job at Granite City Steel or going into the service voluntarily before being drafted, taking that step with the thought of earning college benefits later. It wasn't to be as he was killed 10 days after his 19th birthday. I had started a letter to him while I was at college. It was still in the notebook when a cousin asked me if I had known the young Marine from Venice who was listed in the daily DuQuoin Evening Call's list of Vietnam casualties. The colors of this life will never be as bright as they were before this one young man's death.
Below is notice of the death of PFC Melvin John Freise in local paper. PFC Freise was on
patrol with his unit when they encountered a sniper hole. While checking it out, they tripped a hostile explosive device believed
to be a "Bouncing Betty" mine, wounding Freise and 2 others. Freise was evacuated as emergency wounded and the other two men
were listed as priority. Freise died during evacuation.
-- The Virtual Wall, September 3, 2013
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