September 22, 2023



Marine colonel’s memoir unveils sporty magic formula to war schooling

Marine colonel’s memoir unveils sporty magic formula to war schooling

Table of Contents

In 1993, Marine colonel and reservist Donald E. Marousek scratched absent at his lifetime story in a notebook in slanted, left-handed penmanship.

His daughter, Susan Perry, of Anaheim, California, often experienced inspired her father — and own idol — to file his most important recollections for her small children, and grandchildren, but assumed he experienced hardly ever done the assignment.

After Marousek died in 2013, just weeks shy of his 93rd birthday, his young children uncovered a black 3-ringed binder with chapters typed up by their mother, Betty, in a bedroom drawer as they ready to offer the family’s Redondo Beach front home.

In the beginning, the spouse and children was hesitant to share Marousek’s private internet pages since he was so faithfully loyal to the Marine Corps and under no circumstances termed awareness to himself. They also feared that he may well have harbored survivor’s guilt just after dropping buddies in various wars, but agreed that his memories ship a useful message to the generations about loyalty, brotherhood and the services that described him.

“My father wouldn’t even stand when veterans were questioned to detect themselves at stadiums and veterans’ events, since he by no means engaged in battle,” explained Perry. “He didn’t feel like he merited the focus, possessing known so several who created the greatest sacrifice.”

Soon after “Moose” Marousek obtained his fee as a 2nd lieutenant in the Maritime Corps, he and Betty married on Nov. 15, 1944. All through the war, Marousek was an instrument struggle teacher at Naval Air Station Whiting Area near Pensacola where by his all-time beloved aircraft was the F4U Corsair. He was also stationed at Naval Air Station Opa Locka in Miami where he flew TBF Avengers and made his 1st tailhook landing in October 1945.

From 1946–1950, the few returned to New Jersey in which the beat pilot taught woodworking and coached varsity baseball at Park Hill High University and noted for obligation in the reserves.

In 1950, he wrote, “Our squadrons of F4U Corsairs (232 out of New York and VMF 235 out of Boston) have been the 1st Marine squadrons activated for the Korean conflict.”

Marousek in the beginning was stationed at Kaneohe, Hawaii, exactly where his squadron elected him as signal officer aboard several carriers. His remaining hitch was a desk career as a Stearman flight teacher, specializing in evening flight training.

Marousek mustered out of the services on Sept. 10, 1952, building his past flight into Wright-Patterson discipline in Dayton, Ohio, and went on to have a thriving career in the revenue and producing of precision instruments for planes.

But the Maritime Corps always was a aspect of his lifetime.

A property film narrated by Marousek, features his Purple Devils squadron traveling Corsairs for the “Flying Leathernecks,” starring John Wayne at Camp Pendleton, California.

A memoir uncovered

In Marousek’s family memoir, he described how he was born in 1920 on the kitchen area desk of the two-tale body household illuminated by the “last streetlight” on Havemeyer Avenue in the Bronx.

His toddler photos are woven into the memoir with portraits of his grandparents (August and Anna Marguerite Schroder), 1st-technology German and Czech immigrants, standing beneath the pin-striped awning of the grocery retailer they owned in the Bronx in the vicinity of trolley lines, and the barn exactly where the relatives stabled their horses, “Peaches” and “Astor,” which pulled a wagon transporting produce from close by farms.

The complete-chook colonel recalled childhood summers in which the family members stayed in the old salt-box beach front cottages on Extended Island, and visits to the Jersey shore where he rode his 1st rollercoaster with his mother on Coney Island.

Marousek attended Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio, exactly where he played baseball and basketball, and courted Betty, who rode in the 1937 Dodge with the rambler seat and lived nearby in Dayton, Ohio, wherever her family members remembered the times when Orville Wright bought bicycles to “crazy people who believed they could fly!”

When sports went to war

War shaped Marousek’s destiny.

Many months following the 1941 Pearl Harbor assault, Marousek enlisted in the army with desires of becoming a Marine.

He commenced civilian teaching university at Syracuse University and Amboy Town/Onondaga airport, in which he bought behind the controls of a Piper Cub plane and right away was hooked on flight.

In March 1943, his up coming end was the V-5 Naval aviation pre-flight school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a brutish camp exactly where cadets have been conditioned to advance to the future stage of authentic, in-flight teaching.

Competitive athletics like football, basketball, boxing and wrestling were being repurposed fight-model. Fouls had been not named in competition, protective equipment was slight, and America’s hardest coaches have been tasked to extract “killer instinct” from sea-likely pilots.

Officers who coached “pre-flight” fliers incorporated the Crimson Tide’s Paul “Bear” Bryant and Notre Dame’s “Four Horseman” Jim Crowley, UCLA basketball’s John Picket, earth-champion wrester Don George, and Larry Snyder, Jesse Owens’ observe coach at Ohio Condition. Detroit Tiger and Baseball Hall of Fame second baseman Charley Gehringer manned pre-flight baseball diamonds while planet-winner boxer Jack Dempsey laced up his gloves for demonstrations and long term president Gerald Ford jumped into rings to toughen up cadets like youthful George H.W. Bush.

In today’s earth, pre-flght coaches may well contain athletes these kinds of as NFL quarterback Tom Brady or Lakers basketball phenom LeBron James.

The social media whirl created by these personalities would be irresistible. But shockingly minor was described about this supreme era of athletic volunteerism simply because pre-flight trainees were being far too fatigued, bruised and maybe even a very little far too bashful to brandish experiences on the day by day grind in diaries and letters residence to Mother and Dad.

Marousek “described (pre-flight) as very tricky and 1 of the very best issues that at any time happened to him,” said grandson Andrew Bermond, who retains his grandfather’s leather flight jacket on exhibit guiding glass in his workplace. “And he thought of it a great honor to be a person of two non-MLB players to have produced the Navy baseball group.”

Due to the fact causalities had been fierce at pre-flight, the Navy would not enable just any reporter watch ambulances cart gentlemen off fields with damaged limbs. Fifty decades immediately after Everyday living journal toured the Chapel Hill, North Carolina, camp, Marousek reflected on the depth of a normal pushball game when his battalion was questioned to exhibit reporters how The usa was defeating the enemy.

“It was March 1943, when the coach took us to Chapel Hill—the University of North Carolina, the ‘Tarheels’—one of the three Navy preflight schools in the course of the United States, but by much the most prestigious. This was the most arranged, regimented, and disciplined procedure I have at any time witnessed. Every thing was run by timing — not a wasted moment. As one particular course of cadets arrived for an celebration, the previously class was just leaving. It was right here that you formulated your head as perfectly as your overall body. Classes in plane and ship recognition, Morse code, and blinker code, aerology, navigation–both equally useless-reckoning and celestial — and training movies of all kinds, but not an airplane in sight!

Then on the physical side was wrestling, boxing, basketball, and soccer (with no rules), marching, press ball, swimming, hand-to-hand beat, and the dreaded obstacle class. We, at situations, have been also pressed into slave labor. Once in a while, a platoon would be marched out into the Carolina woods of red clay and compact pine trees where by a rock crusher was positioned and we fed boulders into the device, which labored like an outsized food items processor and broke up the boulders into gravel which was then graded into different sizes by passing in excess of steel grates with ever-growing hole dimensions.

The university was frequently referred to as ‘Cripple Hill,’ and for an clear purpose. The infirmary was retained fast paced with injured cadets. Lifetime Magazine frequented our campus for an post they ended up carrying out, and we have been to set on a clearly show for the photographers, demonstrating pushball. The ball is about ten ft in diameter, comfortable rubber, and inflated. Two groups of close to 30 associates per staff tried to press the ball more than the others’ target line. The demonstration acquired so violent that 1 cadet experienced a broken leg, and several others had damaged arms or dislocated shoulders. Chapel Hill was not termed ‘Cripple Hill’ without having rationale!”

Marousek explained how he built the baseball crew, and what it was like to see his parents, New York Mets supporters, in the stands, viewing him enjoy in a sport with main-league trainees.

“April is baseball period and the Hill was forming a crew. Don Kepler, a entire lieutenant, was the supervisor, assisted by Lt. J.G. Buddy Hassett, who played initially base for the New York Yankees for a several a long time. Tryouts would consider place at 3:00 P.M. (1500 hours) right after lessons on the stadium discipline. A crowd showed up for tryouts. Among the cadets were these kinds of Massive League stars as Johnny Sain, ‘Ace’ Williams, Buddy Gremp, Johnny Pesky, Ted Williams, Harry Craft, and others. Definitely, these cadets would make the staff. Those people of us who weren’t Massive League stars ended up sent to yet another diamond for tryouts. Coaches and V-7 officers were being in demand of picking out possible gamers. Despite the fact that I was typically a initially baseman in superior faculty and university, I decided to go out at shortstop through batting apply, exactly where I had a greater prospect of showing what I could do. The good news is, a handful of ‘hot ones’ arrived my way and, just after fielding them cleanly, one of the coaches called me in to swing the bat. Immediately after hitting a couple of liners, I was despatched more than to the other diamond in which the ‘big’ men were functioning out. After once again I shown my ability and took about initial foundation from Buddy Hassett during infield practice. Coach Kepler seemed to be impressed so I was approved. I designed the staff!! There were being but two cadets on the team who have been not former Large League gamers. This was my brightest hour in baseball! We performed the Naval Academy, Norfolk Navy Property (Dominick DiMaggio), Duke College, and several other university or Services groups up and down the East Coast. Because we experienced to vacation, generally by Navy bus, we experienced to uphold the tradition of the Navy by wanting our ideal, so we were being all measured for Navy blue uniforms then and there. These were the very same uniforms the Annapolis cadets wore. The rest of the cadets didn’t get their “Blues” right until graduation day a few months afterwards!! I loved all those 3 months immensely, notably playing ball and assembly so numerous good fellas.

A person of the cadets who arrived shortly just after me was Cornelius Warmerdam (pictured, U.S. Navy Pre-Flight Archives) the terrific pole vaulter. When the thirteenth battalion arrived I was happy to see Bob Fournier and Don Eire. Having said that, considering that we were being in unique “batts” and different levels of the education syllabus, we only obtained to see each individual other at mealtimes or on weekends.

One of the items none of us will ever forget was the greeting new cadets received from individuals cadets by now ‘established’ at a teaching web site. As the Navy buses brought in the new, broad-eyed recruits, the common cry of ‘You’ll be sooorry!’ echoed about the station. This tradition, I quickly figured out, was carried out at every single Base in the overall Coaching Command.

I do not consider any cadet can at any time neglect the self-control and training gained at any Pre-Flight School. I need to admit building the baseball workforce did give me sure ‘privileges.’ Positive, the status and recognition have been awesome, even the likelihood to dress in the blues and go away the Station each weekend was terrific, but, most importantly, Don Kepler didn’t want any of his players harm so we had been excused from the dreaded Obstacle System in the afternoons and attended baseball practice rather. My fellow cadets kidded me about going through Cripple Hill on a ‘scholarship’!

When our ‘Cloudbuster’ team frequented Annapolis to enjoy the Navy cadets there on Sunday, Mother and Dad came down to see me. It was a terrific thrill for me to participate in with these types of distinguished players—undoubtedly the closest I at any time got to participating in professional baseball, a dream Dad experienced normally experienced for me. I felt I let him down that day—I went strike much less!”

Marousek echoed that sentiment when his grandson interviewed him for a high university challenge.

“He identified my questions complicated and unpleasant to reply,” claimed Bermond in an electronic mail. “When I commented that I could under no circumstances do all that, he mentioned, ‘You could and you would, there’s no doubt in my intellect. We didn’t want a fight, we just desired to perform ball. But … there’s a work to be done and a war to be gained.’”

Marousek wrapped up his accounting of Pre-Flight, featuring a bit of suggestions to the existing generation about the things he discovered in Chapel Hill.

Navy Preflight university will normally continue being in my mind, as it will all other cadets, as one particular of the biggest experiences of my daily life. 1st off you never even get to see an plane, substantially much less climb into 1. Oh, positive, you discover all about them in Aerodynamics and see them in Recognition courses, and pretended to fly them in Navigation lessons, but really flight — no way. However, for mental and physical schooling it was absolutely tops! (If only civilian substantial schools and schools could carry out that substantially discovering!)

The most important lesson I took away with me when I left Chapel Hill was this: When you are entirely bodily exhausted and are certain you can’t go yet another move, will-ability can have you as much again as you just came. Now, fifty many years later on, I continue to think that lesson.”

Anne R. Keene is a WWII essayist and author of “The Cloudbuster 9: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Group That Served Win WWII.”

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