For more than 30 years, Tom Mueller has been writing about men and women who made the Ultimate Sacrifice, first for his newspaper and more recently in his own books. The work spans from the Civil War to Iraq and Afghanistan.
It all began in 1984, when he was on assignment for his newspaper in Europe and decided to go to his uncle's grave in France. Mueller had not known precisely where this was, or what his uncle was doing, before preparing for this trip. To his surprise, his uncle's battle was the Battle of Normandy. Research showed his uncle was killed in his second day of combat, Aug. 1, 1944, as the Allies were just beginning to break out of Normandy nearly two months after D-Day. Where his uncle died, at Percy not far south of St. Lo, was only 40 miles or so from Omaha Beach.
After coming home, Mueller searched for every book about the Breakout from Normandy and began writing his newspaper's Memorial Day stories for a circulation of more than a quarter-million. The stories included a nurse killed at Anzio, a paratrooper artilleryman killed in a glider on D-Day, a medic killed in Vietnam, one of the last Wisconsin men to die in Korea, and so on. His books include some of those stories.
Mueller focused on Vietnam and World War I when he wrote about young men from Oak Creek, Wis., whose names are on the American Legion and VFW posts in Oak Creek. He also tracked down the story behind a cutline of "Civil War" under a photo in an old family genealogy.
Mueller was world and national news editor of his newspaper, the Milwaukee Sentinel, and also created a sports magazine there. Then he taught journalism skills to university students for nearly a decade before gravitating to the writing of books about his longtime topic.