SHREVEPORT, LA — Weldon “Odell” Stautzenberger went to be with his Lord and Savior on Sunday, May 5, 2002 while residing at the Veterans Administration hospital in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Mr. Stautzenberger was preceded in death by his parents, Oscar A. Stautzenberger and Myrtle Greebon Stautzenberger and also his sister, Eunice Stautzenberger Stahl.
Mr. Odell Stautzenberger was born October 23, 1924, in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Stautzenberger received his schooling in the public schools of Bexar County and spent summers and holidays working on his grandparents’ farm in Seguin, Texas. Mr. Stautzenberger graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1942. While at Thomas Jefferson High School, Mr. Stautzenberger was an All-City and All-District football player and broke several records on the track team in the shot put and discus events. Mr. Stautzenberger’s academic and sports career was interrupted by the outbreak of World War II.
Mr. Stautzenberger served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II, in which he was a member of the famed Carlson’s Second Marine Raider Battalion. After the four Raider Battalions were merged together in 1944, Mr. Stautzenberger served as an automatic rifleman in the Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, Sixth Marine Division. Mr. Stautzenberger was wounded in action twice during the war, in which he received leg wounds from Japanese mortar fire in bitter Jungle fighting on Bougainville and was later shot in the arm by Japanese machine gun fire while attacking Half Moon Hill on the island of Okinawa. Mr. Stautzenberger was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement on Okinawa during the attack on Mt. Yaetake, where under continuous mortar and machine gun fire, Mr. Stautzenberger, on numerous occasions, voluntarily charged and wiped out hostile Japanese machine gun cave emplacements and even after his ammunition was exhausted, he continued with the attack by spotting enemy positions and directing fire toward them. After Japan’s surrender, Mr. Stautzenberger participated in Task Force 31 and at 5:50 a.m. on August 30, 1945, Mr. Stautzenberger and the men of the Second Battalion, Fourth Marines became the first American troops to set foot on Japanese soil, becoming the first foreign invaders ever to touch the Japanese mainland. Mr. Stautzenberger’s outfit was assigned the tasks of seizing the main fort and armory at the center of Futtsu Saki and of demolishing all powerful fortifications.
After the War, Mr. Stautzenberger received a scholarship from Texas A&M University, where he was an All-Southwest Conference guard for the Aggies, playing on the 1946, 1947 and 1948 football teams. Mr. Stautzenberger was named the Aggies most valuable player for the 1946 season and captained the 1948 football team. Mr. Stautzenberger played in the 1949 East-West Shrine Classic at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, where he was a guard for the West Squad. Mr. Stautzenberger also played guard for the 1949 College All Star team which played the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago. Mr. Stautzenberger was a 1949 graduate of Texas A&M University, where he was selected as Who’s Who at Texas A&M for the 1948-49 school year.
After graduation, Mr. Stautzenberger played professional football for the 1949 Buffalo Bills in the AAFC. The 1949 Bills finished 5-5-2 under Coach Red Dawson and Clem Crowe, but became the only team in the conference’s four-year history to go through a season without losing to Coach Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns team. Buffalo earned a pair of ties, 28-28 and 7-7.
After Mr. Stautzenberger ended his football career, he was hired by the Procter & Gamble Distributing Company, where he was employed for 40 years. Mr. Stautzenberger began his P&G career in 1950 in San Antonio, transferring to Dallas in 1952 and finally moving to Shreveport, Louisiana in 1953.
Mr. Stautzenberger was a member of the Texas A&M 12th Man Foundation, the Texas A&M Letterman’s Association, the United States Marine Raider Association, the United States Sixth Marine Division Association, the NFL Alumni Association and was a member of Broadmoor Baptist Church since 1953, where he was very active with his Sunday School class.
Mr. Stautzenberger is survived by his brother Lee Stautzenberger of Corpus Christi, TX, his wife Vera of 27 years and was the proud father of five children from a previous marriage: Duane Stautzenberger, Mike Stautzenberger and Gary Stautzenberger, all of Shreveport, Cheryl Faulkner of Denton, Texas, and Blair Stautzenberger of Northwest Arkansas. Mr. Stautzenberger also had seven grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are pending.