Grand Marshal Steve Krawczyk
Steve Krawczyk was born September 6, 1918 in Patterson, New Jersey. Steve was the youngest of three children whose parents were Polish immigrants. There was no fanfare for his birthday, or even his first birthday, because of the Spanish Flu epidemic that was ravaging the country in 1918 and 1919. Social celebrations were almost non-existent for fear of spreading germs.
Graduating from high school in 1937 where he participated in two varsity sports, Steve like many others struggled to find a job during the Great Depression. Landing a job in a local rubber mill with a salary of twenty-five cents an hour, Steve was happy to be working when others were not.
After two years, and concerned about health issues associated with his mill job, Steve decided to join the military to learn a skill and see the world. After being told of a six months wait to join the Navy, Steve joined the Army Air Corps. He was guaranteed training as an aircraft machinist and assignment to his “dream duty station”, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Eight o’clock AM, Sunday, December 7, 1941 found Steve up early for breakfast and religious service. His anticipated leisurely morning was violently interrupted by the Japanese surprise attack that became the “Day of Infamy” for Americans. Confused by what was happening with the first wave of attacking bombers, the red Rising Sun insignia on the planes, made it clear that this was not a drill. The second wave of bombers targeted Hickham Airfield where Steve was stationed. Steve and other airman frantically tried to defend their airfield and parked planes by shooting antiquated Springfield bolt action rifles at the attacking planes. Concussion from a near miss bomb blast knocked Steve unconscious. He awoke to view the wreckage and devastation around him. Purple hearts were not given for concussion wounds in 1941.
Steve was reassigned to the Continental United States in 1942 and would serve at several air bases in Nebraska. Utah, and Kansas before the war ended. It was at his last duty station that Steve would meet and marry Ruth Johnson his wife for fifty-six years. Steve, with Ruth’s support, used the GI Bill to earn a degree in Business. Together they raised five children. Steve and Ruth retired to Manassas, VA in 1987 after working for the Sherman-Williams Paint Company Headquarters in Washington, DC for over thirty-three years. Sadly, Ruth passed away in 2002.
Mr. Krawczyk has three daughters and two sons; Cathy Hopkins, Mary Benefield, Maragret Wray, and John and Steve Krawyczk. He also has nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren.