Local WWII vet aims to keep memories, tradition alive through successful business

Freddy Simon, WWII vet, Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Around Wichita today, many organizations will honor our veterans for their service to our country.

KSN caught up with one distinguished local veteran to find out how his years of service played a role in later successes.

You may know Freddy Simon as the face of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, a staple in Wichita’s restaurant industry.

Simon believes he’s the luckiest man in the world.

“I worked a little harder for everything I wanted to do because I wanted to be successful in everything I did and it worked,” Simon said.

“He just instilled that in all us boys growing up,” said Bill Simon, one of Freddy’s sons and co-founder of Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers.

Freddy Simon’s work ethic was crafted years before Freddy’s opened its doors.

It all started at Fort Riley where Simon followed his three brothers to the military.

“[It was] part of life then. Everybody wanted to join and help,” he said.

Simon told KSN he wanted to be a fighter pilot but after learning he’s colorblind, he was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division.

“They were very orientated,” he said. “I mean they were first class.”

After training in New Zealand, it was in the Philippines where Simon fought for our country.

“We didn’t complain at all,” he said. “We knew we had a job to do and we were going to do it.”

Simon earned honors like the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Marksmanship award and the Philippines service medal.

“Shot by a sniper. There were snipers in about every building in Manila,” Simon said. “We don’t talk too much about that, but I have a lot since then.”

Despite his injuries, Simon fought on.

“I got the Purple Heart and thought that was my ticket home but it didn’t turn out that way because they needed everybody they could keep,” he said. “The first cavalry division was one of the finest divisions in WWII.”

Now, Simon just wants people to hear his stories and the stories of others who fought for our freedom.

“I want people to know there was a war and we made sacrifices,” he said.

Now, at 91-years-old, Simon spends a lot of time speaking with students about his experiences in the war.

Today, he will spend his Veterans Day with the students at Andover Central Middle School.