Brothers share honors for Marine service in WWIIBrothers Alvin and Simon Crase served in the U.S. Marine Corp. during World War II.
Brothers Alvin and Simon Crase served in the U.S. Marine Corp. during World War II.
Today, a flag rises in their honor at 9 a.m. Friday in front of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.
Alvin Raymond Crase was born during the Depression on July 23, 1923, to Simon and Gertrude Case. In his youth, he loved sports and was quite the shortstop playing baseball in Iron River. In November 1942, at age 19, Alvin enlisted in the Marine Corps in Minneapolis, Minn. He did his basic training in San Diego, Calif.
Alvin did active duty from Nov. 7, 1942, with the U.S. Marines and was discharged Nov. 29, 1944. He also served in the reserves from Nov. 29, 1944, until Jan. 2, 1946. Alvin’s tour of service took him to the Asiatic Pacific area, New Zealand, New Hebrides, Gilbert Islands, the Hawaiian Islands, Marianas Islands, Ryukyu Islands and Japan. Alvin participated in combat duty against the Japanese on Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and the occupation of Japan. He was proud to serve his country and was assistant cook while in the Marines.
Alvin married his pen pal, Lorraine Carlson of Bayfield, on Sept. 22, 1946. They were blessed with nine children, but lost their first son when he was one-day old. Today eight of their children survive, four sons and four daughters.
After his military discharge, Alvin participated in a special government program and trained as an auto mechanic. He was a great mechanic and was known as a Jack-of-all-trades and an excellent painter.
Alvin and his family relocated to many areas after the war seeking better paying jobs in Milwaukee, Michigan and finally to Gary, Ind. Where he one day opened his own service station.
The couple divorced in 1964 and Alvin moved back to Superior in his retirement years. He loved to dance; his children remember Saturday nights rolling up the carpet and dancing with him to Lawrence Welk and then watching Gun Smoke. Alvin was the most happy when he was in the kitchen cooking and he loved to make his mother’s famous pasties. He passed away July 24, 1989, in Superior.
Simon C. Crase entered the Marines in December 1943. He was a teen at the time. Simon served in the 4th Marine Division during World War II as a corporal in armour.
He fought at Iwo Jima and landed on Beach Blue 2. Simon told his son that he flipped a coin with a friend to see who would drive onto the beach. His friend “won” and drove onto a plastic mine and lost both legs.
Simon was one of more than a dozen Marines smiling in a Joe Rosenthal picture on Mt. Suribachi shortly after the photographer captured the iconic shot of Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima.
In his entire life, Simon spent about half an hour total talking about Iwo Jima, a few minutes here and a few minutes there, according to his children. When he would talk about serving in the war, said Simon’s daughter, Carolyn, “you could just see that his heart was breaking inside.”
After the war, Simon returned to the area. In 1951 he nabbed “the cutest girl in the little town of Iron River,” Carolyn said, a young school teacher from Bayfield named Arlene Houtary. He used to spin her around when he came home from the post office and pull her in his arms and kiss her, in front of their kids. The two had regular Friday night dates and those evenings often ended with parents and children polka dancing together in the living room.
“I used to be so embarrassed,” Carolyn said. “Now I would give anything for those days.”
No one meeting Simon Crase would have known he’d been through a hellish battle, his son said.
“He was the friendliest guy you would ever want to meet,” his son said. “He never met a stranger.”
Simon Crase passed away in 1984.