Russ McCrimmon on today’s Honor Flight By Ann Marie Craig
A sobering scene was unfolding at the beach when his ship docked after the trans-Pacific journey to Korea in 1950. With minimal ceremony, but with discretion and respect, fallen U.S. soldiers were being evacuated for burial onto a neighboring vessel.
Russ McCrimmon and his shipmates were at first confused by the scene that greeted them, but pretty quickly it was understood life as a U.S. Marine in Korea could be a grim business.
“It was the smell of death to us,” said McCrimmon. “I turned 18 before I got there, some guys were straight out of boot camp and there were a lot of young men that very soon became men.”
McCrimmon sat Marine-straight at his dining room table in West Bend, and spoke softly and clearly about his military experiences; a vintage map of Korea placed on the table in front of him helped tell the story.
Boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina in August of 1949 was the beginning of McCrimmon’s term of service but he didn’t get there without knowing a bit about the military beforehand.
One of McCrimmon’s uncles was in the Navy at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, during WWII.
Seventeen cousins served in various branches of the U.S. military; one of whom served as a guard at The Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery.
It was the inspiration of a friend in the Marine Corps in the South Pacific however, who inspired McCrimmon to enlist in the Marines at the age of 17, even before he had finished high school.
The GI Bill created after WWII allowed him to get credit for his senior year in high school in Batavia, IL. He graduated from high school and also earned a military GED certificate, making it possible for him to attend aircraft mechanic school, study at Quantico, and go on to be part of the HMR161 Squadron – the first helicopter transport squadron of any branch of the U.S. military.
He asked questions and learned about the testing of the new aircraft ejection seats. He participated in tests to 40,000 feet in a decompression chamber without a G-suit. Ask McCrimmon to tell you how to sew silk: he learned to make and repair silk parachutes and to pack them.
He also was one of the first to test ripstop nylon – the new material that became the standard for parachute construction. He rode in the back of the F7F-3n Grumman Tiger Cat – his name was actually hand painted in the cockpit.
He traveled extensively in Korea with his squadron, worked at the fronts and behind the lines, and after an injury spent two weeks on a hospital ship where he learned about the depth of compassion for the injured and dying soldiers.
With three months left of his tour of duty, he returned to the States to be in guard company at Great Lakes in Illinois. He and his family moved to the West Bend area.
McCrimmon is now 84 years old; he will turn 85 on the day after the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. He is one of 90 veterans who will fly to Washington D.C. on April 8.
His guardian is his daughter Dr. Cathy Evans, who is a neuropsychologist working with military personnel suffering with PTSD, and this will be an opportunity to share his story with her in a very real way.
He is anticipating visits to the monuments, and is also hoping to at least drive by the corner of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue where he used to play sandlot baseball with his friends from Quantico.
One of his boyhood friends died in Korea, and he’d also like to honor him by visiting the Black History Museum.
McCrimmon lives in West Bend with his wife Ann, and they have three grown children.
Merle Norman is moving to downtown Main Street
Merle Norman will be moving to downtown West Bend. The cosmetic shop is currently in the Paradise Pavilion, 1630 S. Main Street in West Bend.
“We’re hoping to be open sometime around June 1,” said Vicki Bressler, owner and certified makeup artist. Bressler has been in West Bend three years and really likes the downtown. “It’s trendy, has a lot of great little shops and phenomenal restaurants,” she said.
Merle Norman will be moving into 138 N. Main Street as Ooh La La…accessories is moving out. Its last day is April 15.
Old Friedens Church is for sale
The old Friedens Church, 2889 Cedar Creek Road, in Jackson is for sale. The asking price is $74,200. The church dates to 1878 when a group of German settlers met to organize a congregation named Friedens Evangelical Church. According to UCC Hope Church, “In 1852 a log structure was built housing the congregation until 1878 when a brick structure was built at the intersection of Hwy P and Hwy C in the Town of Jackson.
In 1957, Friedens Evangelical and Peace Reformed, joined the newly established denomination, the United Church of Christ. On June 2, 1991, the last service held at Frieden’s and the church building was then sold in to a private party as a home and workshop. Frieden’s parsonage still houses the minister and his family.”
The property was recently in the processes of being gutted. Property is being sold as is online auction starting March 20, 2017 and ending June 7, 2017.
Opening day announced for Meijer in West Bend
Bob Bastian of Kewaskum is gloating …and he should run out quick and buy a lottery ticket. Bastian chimed in on March 29 when neighbors lodged a guess on when the Meijer grocery in West Bend would open.
“Well Judy looks like I nailed it on the head. They just announced May 16,” wrote Bastian. And true that! Meijer will debut its new super center in West Bend, 2180 S. Main St., on May 16.
Lisa Ebert guessed the correct day as did Mary Scharrer… so now it’s just going to be one big party in the garden center at Meijer.
The #priceless prize was a sandwich, drink of choice and then gathering in the garden center at the store to talk cheeky about how smart we were.
Developments in West Bend
Watch for development of a new residential building in the vacant lot just north of Dublin’s, 110 Wisconsin Street.
“This is a .37 acre parcel,” said city administrator Jay Shambeau. “Urban Vantage LLC will build a 10-unit, market rate residential building that will also have 2,400-square-feet of commercial space on the first floor which will be home to Quam Engineering.”
According to the concept plan there will be 2 units on the first floor along with office space for Quam Engineering and 4 units on the second and third floors.
“The tenant, Quam Engineering, will stay in West Bend and hopefully expand in West Bend,” said Shambeau. “We’re super excited about it.”
Plans show a parking lot toward the front of the property on Wisconsin Street and the residential building on the west side overlooking the Eisenbahn State Trail.
Market-rate apartments are now “low income apartments or anything subsidized by government programs.” A good local example of market-rate apartments are those at Cast Iron Luxury Living in West Bend.
The city sold the property for $1. Revenue generated will add to the tax base in that TIF District.
There are a couple pretty large construction proposals on the table in West Bend including the construction of an 111,047-square-foot indoor storage facility, located east of 1605 Corporate Center Drive. The location is in an empty field right across the street from the new headquarters of Delta Defense/ USCCA.
Also on tap is development of a 61,830-square-foot, 3-story 32 unit apartment building, on vacant land west of 1275 Shadowood Circle. That plan received a little pushback by neighbors. Another meeting is set between the builder and neighboring condo association on April 17.
And there’s a proposed addition 560-square feet on the west side of the building at 18 E. Washington Street. That building was previously home to Glacier Hills Credit Union and the West Bend Company Museum. It’s currently home to Salberg Law Office. The property is owned by Howard Henrich Iron Ridge Properties, LLC 207 Lincoln Avenue South West Bend.
Controlled deer hunt in West Bend
There will be a public-input session next month as the West Bend Park and Rec Department follows up on a request to help manage deer in the city.
During a meeting in November 2016 the Deer Management Assistant Program reviewed whether to issue special permits to allow bow hunting to trim the deer herd in local parks.
According to Park and Rec director Craig Hoeppner the Park and Rec staff did an old-fashioned deer drive and the count was 28 deer at Lac Lawrann, Ridge Run Park had 41 deer, Regner had 9 and Silverbrook Parkway had 18.
In March, Lac Lawrann voted unanimously that it be a test and sample site for a controlled hunt.
Going forward the Park and Rec Commission will work with the DNR this month on a proposal and then in May there would be a public input session. Hoeppner said the Park and Rec Department would then bring a proposal back to Common Council to determine how to move forward.
Wax Museum at St. Frances Cabrini
Miss Tanking’s class at St. Frances Cabrini hosted a Wax Museum day on Thursday. Students picked an historic figure, researched for months, put together a tri-fold display and had to speak publically about the person.
One of the best moments was at the Sandra Day O’Connor display. The student portraying Justice O’Connor stood stock still with confidence and seriousness; one hand raised to take the oath to uphold justice while the other hand was on the Bible.
And then a little kid walked by and slapped her five.
Papa Murphy’s Pizza in West Bend has a new owner
Papa Murphy’s Pizza, 815 S. Main Street, in West Bend is under new ownership. Earlier this year Carla Schmit retired and sold the business to Derek Strom of Jackson. Strom owns about eight Papa Murphy outlets. On a side note: A big thanks to Carla for supporting schools and events while she owned her business in West Bend.
Updates & Tidbits
–Funeral services were held Friday for Harold Strohmeyer, 82, of St. Michaels, passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, April 1, 2017. Harold was a fixture at the West Bend Farmers’ Market. An expert gardener he was at local Farmers’ Markets from 1979 to his last market October 2016. Harold was known by many people to just strike up a conversation with you, giving his advice usually about growing the best vegetables.
– Keberle, Patrykus & Laufenberg, LLP in West Bend welcomes its new Paralegal, Claudia McGuire. McGuire graduated Marquette University in 1997 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. She has been in the legal field for 20 years and is fluent in Spanish.
“We are very fortunate to have her,” said attorney Dan Patrykus.
– Saturday, May 6 as Washington County hosts its annual Clean Sweep. Registration is limited. To pre-register you may either pay online at washcoparks.com or mail the registration found at co.washington.wi.us/cleansweep. Forms can also be picked up at the Planning and Parks Department, 333 E. Washington Street in West Bend or call 262-335-4808.
– The DIVA Spring Bling is coming up Thursday, April 27 in downtown West Bend. Proceeds from umbrella and specialty ring sales benefit Chix 4 a Cause.
– Come to The Columbian on Saturday, April 8 for the 35th annual Kiwanis pancake-sausage brunch with the Easter Bunny. Tickets at Horicon Bank in West Bend, The Columbian and Minuteman Press.
– Friday, April 14 Fillmore Fire & Rescue Fish Fry at the Fillmore Fire Department. Tommy Schwai will also be making shrimp. Free desserts for donating a non-perishable food item!
– Horicon Bank has stepped up this year to sponsor the fireworks during the July 4th celebration at Riverside Park in West Bend.
-The West Bend American Legion Post 36 will be hosting a brat fry on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 28, 29 and 30 at 1421 W. Washington St. from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Proceeds to local projects and veterans programs.
-The Exclusive Company in West Bend is already advertising this year’s Record Store Day as April 22. The day includes sales, free food and live music as the store, 144 N. Main St., celebrates its independence. The store opens for 12 hours of sales from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
– Fundraiser Saturday, April 8 for Jeremy Rauch of Slinger who is moving forward following a paralyzing accident. Please come enjoy the fun and offer the Rauch family your support.
Judy Steffes, Editor
Washington County Insider