Military Marksmanship Association
Formerly AMUA - Army Marksmanship Unit Association

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Photo of SFC Fred Eysel

Ferdinand L. "Fred" Eysel

Sergeant  First Class (Retired) Ferdinand L. "Fred" Eysel, 87, died on Sunday, September 5, 2004, in Columbus, Georgia.  Fred was Distinguished Rifleman and member of the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit Service Rifle Team shortly after the USAMU was formed in 1956.

Fred was born August 28, 1917, in Brooklyn, New York.  As a teen, he worked for the Western Union, and joined the National Guard at age 17.  At age 18, he joined the U.S. Army, 16th Infantry Regiment at Fort Jay, New York.  During this time, he saved 19 lives one summer as a lifeguard at New York's Rockaway Beach, and organized a Drum and Bugle Corps with 106 youths.

Fred served in Hawaii in 1941 as a company bugler.  His bugle calls were recorded and sounded the alarm at Scoffield Barracks when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  Trained as a Sniper, Scout, and Raider, Fred served with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division in the Europe during World War II.  Fred was wounded twice during the Normandy Invasion at Utah Beach, and once during the Battle of the Bulge.  He later married his nurse, 1st Lieutenant Louise Beyer, who cared for him in England after both injuries.

After the war, he was a demonstrator and instructor with the Infantry Small Arms Committee and a tester with the Infantry Test Board at Fort Benning, Georgia.  At the Test Board, he helped develop the M-14 Service Rifle.  Fred was expert with most infantry weapons including the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) and the bayonet.  He used to demonstrate firing the M-1 Garand Service Rifle, firing 40 rounds in a minute.  At the end of the demonstration, he would shoot the weapon, one-handed, off his groin and then his chin.

Fred fired at National Matches at Camp Perry with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit.  In 1956, he was awarded the 2,000th U. S. Army Distinguished Rifleman Badge.  In 1958, he was 5th in the National Championship individual rifle match and was a member of the first place Infantry Trophy Team and the Nevada Trophy Team.  Fred also coached the first U.S. Olympic Biathlon team in Alaska, teaching the skiers how to shoot.  Additionally, he was a charter member of the Fort Benning Rifle and Pistol Club.

Fred's military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for Valor and Oak Leaf Cluster for meritorious service, two awards of the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal with baguettes, World War II Victory Medal, and World War II theater ribbons.

Upon retiring from the military in 1959, Fred was a Civil Service employee at the Fort Benning Weapons Pool, and in Columbus, Georgia, a barber and a sign painter.  He was an artist, calligrapher, photographer, rock hound, and lapidary. In addition to being an accomplished Army bugler, he played harmonica and piano by ear.  He was an active member of Saint Matthew Lutheran Church since 1957.

Those who knew Fred will remember him as one who never met a stranger, and more importantly, was one always ready to help a person in need.  In addition, many of us will cherish his personal ministry gift:  a calligraphy print of The Lord's Prayer.

 

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