A fourth-generation native of Osborne County who has been a public servant in both his career and as a volunteer for over fifty years to the people of Osborne County has indeed earned himself a place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame. Oid Lee Wineland was born October 28, 1920, to Clyde and Hazel (Tucker) Wineland on the family homestead in Kill Creek Township, Osborne County, Kansas.
Oid attended the Hillsview rural school and graduated from Alton [Kansas] High School in 1939. Also in 1939 Oid was awarded the American Farmer Degree, the Future Farmers of America’s highest award. He then attended Kansas State University, where he briefly played football and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in January 1943. He entered military service in the army and received a reserve commission as a second lieutenant after graduating Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in May 1943. That same month he returned to Alton and married his high school sweetheart, Letha Thayer. Together they raised two sons, Ron and Jim.
Oid served in World War II with the 121st Infantry in the Rhineland, Central Germany, and Northern France campaigns. After dismissal from active duty in 1946 Oid remained in the Army Reserve until April 1, 1953. He became a member of the Alton American Legion chapter and has been in charge of the chapter’s firing squad for over fifty years.
On January 21, 1946, Oid became a rural mail carrier for the Alton post office, a job he held until March 29, 1986. In his forty years as a carrier he was exemplary in his work and earned an Expert Driver Award-Million Mile Safety Award from the National Safety Council. He also farmed wheat on rented land and worked alongside his father and then on his own on the family farm in Kill Creek Township all his working life. An active member of the United Brethren Church in Alton, Oid has served on the Alton City Council and as the town’s mayor. For twenty-one years he was elected to the local school boards, serving as School District Number 392 president for two terms. He also held the office of Region Seven Vice-President of the Kansas Association of School Boards.
Oid helped local youth through the Pee-Wee and Cookie baseball programs in Alton. At various times he could be found as the assistant coach, groundskeeper, scorebook keeper, equipment manager, umpire, supplying first aid, or whatever else there was to do. “I enjoyed that about more than anything I ever did,” relates Oid.
Now in retirement at his home in Alton, Oid and his wife enjoy gardening, yard work, traveling, and visiting with family and the many friends he has in made over the years in the Alton area. Always a source of pride and respect among his peers, Oid Wineland remains a strong voice in the affairs of Alton and the northwestern part of Osborne County.
OID WINELAND IN WORLD WAR II
(By Jim Wineland)
Oid Lee Wineland was an infantry officer in the United States Army in World War II from 1943-1945. He was awarded the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart with two oak leaf clusters.
From August 1944 until the end of the war, he served in Europe as a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry ”Gray Bonnet” Regiment, of the 8th Infantry Division. This unit faced some of the toughest infantry fighting of the war. During Oid’s time with the 121st Infantry, 718 of its men were killed-in-action or died of wounds suffered in combat in France and Germany.
Oid first saw action in August 1944 during the siege of the French port of Brest. After that city fell, the 8th Division participated in the capture of German units on the Crozon Peninsula south of Brest. Operations in France ended in September. The division moved to Luxembourg and held a defensive position. On November 20th, Oid moved with the 121st Infantry as it entered Germany near Huertgen, where a furious battle had been underway since September.
At the Battle of the Huertgen Forest, the 2nd Battalion played an important role in the capture of the village of Huertgen, Germany. For its action on November 21-28th, the 121st Infantry received the Presidential Unit Citation, the nation’s highest award for a military unit. On December 1, 1944, Oid was one of a few remaining officers who led the battered 2nd Battalion while it was surrounded by the enemy in the woods east of the village. It was a harrowing day, but the battalion held on. On December 6th Oid was seriously wounded in the leg by German artillery near Huertgen and evacuated. After several weeks in hospitals in Belgium, France, and England, he returned to the 121st Infantry on January 26, 1945.
In 1945 he participated in the fighting near the Roer River Dams; the drive from the Roer River to the Rhine River; the house-to-house combat in the Ruhr Pocket east and north of Cologne, Germany; and, finally, the rapid drive to the Elbe River and into North Central Germany at the war’s end in May 1945. Oid led what became a highly decorated platoon of black soldiers in a segregated unit within the 121st Infantry from March until the end of the fighting in Europe. On May 8, 1945, Oid became Company Commander of F Company, 121st Infantry. Oid returned to the United States in the summer of 1945 with the regiment. The 8th Infantry Division was at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri, preparing to join the war in the Pacific when Japan surrendered in September 1945. Oid was discharged from active duty in January 1946 and returned to Alton, Kansas.