Veteran served in World War II, Korea
Marvin Kruse, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II, with medals he was awarded during combat operations in Europe over a period of close to three years. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 7:22PM
LEYDEN TOWNSHIP — Marvin Kruse served in the military for 10 years, including three years in the Army, during World War II.
Kruse, 90, lives in unincorporated Leyden Township. During the war, he took part in five major battles: Ardens, better known as the Battle of the Bulge; Rhineland; Central Europe; Northern France, and Normandy.
Q: What were you up to before World War II started?
A: I graduated from Maine Township High School in 1940 and went to work at First National Bank in Chicago as a bike messenger. My goal was to some day make $50 a week. I was making $16 a week.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Then I heard about Pearl Harbor. I was afraid it was going to end before I got into it. I went down to the Navy. At that time, the Navy wouldn’t take me because I wore glasses. I went to the Army and they took me.
Q: You were told you were going to become a medic?
A: It was the first time I heard of a medic. I made a good medic because I was stocky and could run. I was told to prevent hemorrhaging, prevent shock and get them out of the line of fire. Get them back to the first aid station, where they had doctors.
Q: Tell me about your first days in battle.
A: I was in the 28th Division. We landed on July 20, 1944 in Normandy, near Omaha Beach. We came in from a small ship and went to a landing craft. The thing was choppy and I sprained an ankle. I had to grab a couple guys to get ashore. We dug a hole. I had to lay there for three or four days until I could finally walk. There was still firing going on.
Q: How about after your ankle recovered?
Q: What did combat look like?
Q: What did it sound like?
A: There was constant firing. Most of the damage against people was from mortars and artillery. Small arms fire was a little farther away. All the time, day and night. You can tell the distance between a mortar from a far distance and those coming in.
Q: What did it smell like?
A: Dead people. That was very pronounced. The worst smell in the world is a dead person or animal that’s lay there a couple days. When I would see a dead soldier, I would throw a blanket over him or something. It was demoralizing to other troops.
Q: I’m told Germans twice captured you?
A: I was semi-captured. Me and another guy were carrying wounded back to an aid station. A German patrol appeared. They took us to a farmhouse nearby. They asked for our ID. We didn’t have guns. He said, I could send you to a POW camp, but you’re doing more important work. We picked up anybody; German soldiers, civilians. Most of the time they recognized the red cross on you, they wouldn’t shoot at you.
Q: You ever capture anyone?
Q: When were you discharged?
Q: What did you do after you were discharged?
Q: I understand you reenlisted during the Korean War?
A: After I got discharged from the Army, I was probably in the best shape of my life. I joined the Naval Reserve. Sure enough, I got called back in.
Q: What did you do?
Q: When did you finally leave the military?
Q: What did you do next?
Q: How about after you retired?