The Green Bay Packers and WPS Health Solutions paid special tribute this week to US Navy and World War II veteran Ruth Schmelzer Potier and her family in Monday night’s game against Detroit.
Operation Fan Mail, the program that recognizes military families and veterans at every Packers home game, marks its 15th season in 2021.
Potier, from Sturgeon Bay, was the first woman from Door County to enlist in the Navy in January 1943. She was sworn in in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) as part of the country’s Second Regiment, after being inspired by three brothers. which were already in use during World War II. At that time, the enlistment was for the duration of the war.
After graduating at the top of her basic training class, she worked in the disbursements office at the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Millington, Tennessee. After obtaining the rank of 2nd Class Storekeeper, she was transferred to the Travel Office where she organized itineraries for seafarers dispatched by rail. During her time in the military, she participated in marching exercises, including the privilege of marching in a New York City parade in front of Mayor LaGuardia.
She eventually began to correspond with a boy from her hometown, Leonard Potier, who was also in the Navy and had been stationed on the USS Argonne ship in Pearl Harbor when the base was attacked. While on leave at home, they married on January 11, 1945 and went on to raise a family of six children.
Potier then became a nursing assistant at Door County Memorial Hospital for 14 years. She is 99 years old and, with the help of her children, she still lives in her own home, where she remains a staunch fan of the Packers.
Operation Fan Mail, which began in 2007, is designed to honor families with a member on active duty or a member who is a veteran. The family member can be a spouse, mother, father, son, daughter or brother. The Packers and WPS Health Solutions will host a family or group at every home game in 2021 and recognize them on the video board during pre-game activities. A total of 139 individuals, families or groups have been recognized by the program so far.
To choose families, the Packers and WPS Health Solutions are asking interested families, or friends of eligible families, to submit an essay, 500 words or less, on why a particular fan should be recognized next season. Essays can be sent to Operation Fan Mail, PO Box 10628, Green Bay, WI, 54307-0628 or online at packers.com/lambeau-field/operation-fan-mail.
In addition to being recognized on the field before the game, selected families will receive four game tickets and a $ 150 Packers Pro Shop gift card courtesy of WPS Health Solutions.