Chippewa Falls’ Pearl Harbor Veteran: Harry W. Kramer
lost, local history uncovered in John Kinville’s new book
When John Kinville, a social studies teacher at Chippewa Falls Senior High School, was asked to aid in the making of a memorial to the fallen soldiers of his school, he had no idea his efforts would uncover a graduate who died at Pearl Harbor.
After the completion of a wooden plaque engraved with the names of 40 alumni, Kinville was compelled to learn more. To do so, he created Flags 4 the Fallen, a club where he and student volunteers would research in-depth about the lives of the fallen alumni. In 2012, Mariah Meyers, one of the student-volunteers, discovered that one of the alumni, Harry Wellington Kramer, had died at Pearl Harbor.
This led to over a decade-worth of research that culminated in John’s new book, Chippewa Falls: World War II Hero Harry W. Kramer, an entire book dedicated to the life of Harry, including the real-life letters he sent to friends and family while actively serving. Kinville will be hosting an event discussing the book on May 13 at 10:00am, at the Marathon County Public Library (300 1st Street Wausau).
“To me, Pearl Harbor meant so much,” Kinville explained. “But like so many things it becomes impersonal. And so Harry brought a face to it.” Kinville’s focus is much less on the violence and brutality of World War II, but rather the individuated soul than can be seen in reading Harry’s letters.
Besides his dedication to the Navy, being one of the highest-scoring pursuits in the different classifications of firemen, Harry liked to sing, he liked to drink Coca-Cola, and he was deep into his faith.
“When he's killed, it destroys his parents,” explained John. “And essentially it was ‘we don't talk about Harry…it's too heartbreaking. It's too painful.’” This is ultimately how this history was lost to time. Through his examination of Harry’s letters, collaborations with his closest descendants, and by paying his respects to Harry at his grave in Hawaii, John powerfully and honorably uncovers Harry’s history.
Buy your copy of Chippewa Falls: World War II Hero Harry W. Kramer at johnkinville.com. The official book launch occurs on April 30, 2pm at the Hyde Center for the Arts (3 South High Street Chippewa Falls).