The Suburbanite
  • WWII Then and Now: Larry Crumrine served as airplane mechanic for the Marines

  • Larry Crumrine faced snipers and fixed engines through the war

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  • Larry Crumrine of Marlboro Township volunteered for service in World War II so he could don the uniform of the Marines.
    “They were going to draft me. I got the note to appear,” said Crumrine. “Then I saw that uniform, those dress blues. I figured I might as well get a good uniform out of it. But, I never got one. I got a green one.”
    Crumrine, who was born in Woodsfield and went to school in Monroe County, was given a fighting man’s fatigues and was sent overseas to the Pacific Theater.
    “I was an airplane mechanic,” said Crumrine, who noted that he was stationed with the Marines’ Air Wing at an air base at Bougainville.
    The mechanics didn’t take time to repair the engines of planes, which came back with “a lot of bullet holes,” he said.
    “Back in those days they didn’t want to waste time repairing them,” explained Crumrine. “We replaced them. We could change engines faster than we could overhaul them.”
    The war in the Pacific remained close.
    “The problem we had was snipers. They would hide up in the trees and shoot,” said Crumrine. “We all had to wear armored flak jackets all the time. Whenever you walked out of your tent you’d have that jacket on. Everybody did, even while we were working. They had snipers all over.”
    Once Crumrine was driving a colonel when a sniper fired at their jeep.
    “The officer, he told me, ‘Sergeant, you go out and take care of him,’” said Crumrine. “So I went out. I never did find him.”  
    Crumrine had been transferred to Okinawa by the time the war ended. He guarded trains in China, carrying a carbine as he and other guards rode on top of trains that traveled to Peking (now Beijing) and returned.
    “We never did find out what we were guarding. All we knew was that it was on the trains.”
    Crumrine returned to his wife, Mary, in 1946. They raised three sons — Edward, Collin, and Rollin.
    His wife died, and he married his second wife, Betty, who also is deceased. For years, he enjoyed the companionship of his special friend, Marie, who passed away less than two years ago.
    Crumrine worked for the Timken Co. for a handful of years, and then for about a dozen years he drove a tanker truck for Standard Oil and a few other jobs until retiring in the 1990s as millwright at American Steel in Alliance.
    “The Lord’s been good to me,” said Crumrine, who smiled when he said he doesn’t often think of his war service. “I don’t think back, I think ahead.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Still, he has for more than 20 years served on the military burial detail of V.F.W. Post 1036 in Alliance, appearing at the funerals and burials of veterans.
    “That’s one of the things I’ve done that I’m the most proud.”