In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down with World War II veteran and Stein Assisted Living Resident, Sandford “Sandy” Krasky to learn about his experience serving our country.
The youngest of four children, Sandy was born on May 21st, 1922 in Newark, New Jersey. Growing up, he was interested in school and the sciences, working as a deliveryman for a hot dog company on the side throughout high school. After graduating from South Side High School (now Malcolm X Shabazz High School), Sandy went on to attend Newark College of Engineering (now NJIT). It was during his second year there that bombs were dropped on Pearl Harbor, beginning the United States’ involvement in World War II. The attack prompted a local Army recruitment parade shortly after. “I just got in line and enlisted,” Sandy said, “then I went home and told my mom. She nearly fainted, but it was one of the better moves I made in life. I went into active service and they kept me waiting just long enough to finish my second year at school.”
Sandy enlisted in the US Army Air Corp, which was named the US Army Air Force (AAF) soon after. (The US Air Force, its own separate branch, was formed at the end of World War II). He was sent to Selman Field in Monroe, Louisiana and then Coral Gables, Florida – where he was trained as a flight navigator by Pan American Airways. “They took me on my first flight ever,” Sandy recalled. The AAF contracted Pan American Airways to provide navigation training until military schools could be established. Upon completing navigation school, Sandy received orders to transfer to Chicago for duty. However, he made sure to marry his sweetheart, Harriet, in a ceremony officiated by an Army chaplain before being sent away. The couple celebrated 76 years of marriage this year.
Much of Sandy’s service was spent as a transport navigator; mainly flying between Chicago, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, his flight career ended when he was diagnosed with a serious case of malaria. “There are five forms of malaria and I caught the most severe form – Plasmodium Falciparum,” Sandy remembered. “This was the type that kills. I had about five or six malaria attacks while in the hospital. I was running temperatures of, and I’m not kidding you, over 107 degrees Fahrenheit. They kept putting me in the shower to cool me down. Anyway, I’m lucky. I did not have a single attack of malaria after I left the hospital.” Sandy was in fact one out of hundreds of thousands of US troops infected during the war.
After recovering from his illness, Sandy was assigned to administrative work duties for the remainder of his active duty. He was also a reservist during the Korean War. After returning home, Sandy went on to live life with his wife Harriet, graduating from Rutgers University along the way and starting a career in the steel industry. His career primarily consisted of purchasing and estimating. He was able to retire at sixty-four years old.
When asked if being a veteran has influenced his views on the military or war in general, Sandy had this to say, “I think that every young fella’ should spend at least a couple of years in the military. I’ve argued that point for a long time. This country wants to be the guardian of the world, so we shouldn’t limit our military to putting the same fellas in combat time and time again. I really believe we should have a universal draft.”
The Wilf Campus would like to thank Sandy Krasky and all veterans for their service. They put their lives both on hold and on the line to protect the freedoms of our nation – their deeds and service will never be forgotten.