Fred Plichta, the World War II veteran whose unlikely friendship led to a 2015 trip to Washington, D.C., that was chronicled by the Free Press, died Saturday of lung cancer.
He was 91 years old.
Plichta was born in Detroit to Fred and Emma (Serembia) Plichta on March 3, 1927. He was a Free Press newspaper carrier as a child, and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1945, serving in the 88th Infantry Division in Europe.
He was humble about his service, and proud of the country he served. He often wore a signature black cowboy hat with the words “WWII Veteran” printed in bold at the center.
“They all think I’m a big hero,” he said during a trip to the National World War II Memorial in 2015, which was funded by donors and put together by a friend who wanted him to see the memorial before he lost his vision to macular degeneration. “I tell them I’m not. But they all say you’re a World War II vet, and I say, no, I’m not. I didn’t get into the high battles. No, I don’t think what I had to do was important. It’s not like getting shot at every day.
“They tell me it was important, but I look at men with no arms and no legs. … I feel a little embarrassed that everyone is making a fuss over me.”
Read Plichta’s story: Unlikely friendship takes vet to WWII Memorial in D.C.
See photo gallery: A veteran’s trip to the National Mall
After the war, Plichta married Catherine Bowling and had two sons, Fred Plichta and Jack Plichta, and two daughters, Linda Plichta of Monroe and Teresa (Randall) Coulter of Prescott, as well as eight grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren. He worked for more than three decades as a truck driver for the City of Detroit. He lived in Monroe for many years and was an active member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and the Monroe VFW Post 1138.
His parents, wife and two sons preceded him in death.
Visitation is set for 1-9 p.m. Wednesday at The Allore Chapel, Martenson Family of Funeral Homes, 203 E. Elm Ave. Monroe. Military honors are planned for 11 a.m. Thursday at the chapel, followed by a funeral service at 11:15 a.m. Entombment is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Glen Eden Memorial Park, 35667 W. Eight Mile Road, Livonia.
Contact Kristen Jordan Shamus: 313-222-5997 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.
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