Remembering 3 CHVFD Members Killed During World War II

On this Memorial Day, please take time to reflect on the supreme sacrifices made
by our armed forces in service to their country, especially Ensign Michael H.
Korn, Private 1st Class Julius M. Vajda, and Staff Sergeant Hersal B. Cralle.
These three men were members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department.
They protected their community as a member of this department and lost their
lives protecting their country during World War II. We can honor them by never
forgetting their service and the sacrifices they made. A bronze dedication
plaque is installed on the front of the firehouse recognizing their supreme

Ensign Michael H. Korn, a U.S. Navy pilot, was killed on January 27, 1944 when
his plane crashed near the Jacksonville, Florida NAS during a training mission.
Ensign Korn is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He was awarded the Purple

Private 1st Class Julius M. Vajda, U.S. Army infantryman, was killed on January
14, 1945 in a battle at St. Vith, Belgium. PFC Vajda is buried at Arlington
National Cemetery. He was awarded the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Hersal B. Cralle, a ball turret operator on a B-17
bomber, named ‘Ain’t Misbehavin,’ was killed on May 8, 1944 over Lindhorst,
Germany when the plane was struck by enemy fire on their way to Berlin for a
bombing mission. The plane exploded in mid-air and only one crew member was able
to parachute out in time. Staff Sergeant Cralle is buried at the Ardennes
American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium. He was awarded a Purple Heart and the Air
Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters.

In August 2013, members of the department laid a wreath at the Arlington
National Cemetery – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor of all of our veteran
members and visited the gravesites of members who are buried at Arlington. It
was a honor to participate in this solemn ceremony.

You can read more about Ensign Korn, PFC Vajda and Sgt. Cralle’s service,
including medals, commendations, and the units they served in, by visiting our
website’s Veterans Page at