We Remember…

A simple bronze plaque adorns a brick column between two bay doors at the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department. As members go about their daily tasks and apparatus rolls past in response to another emergency, this monument stands as a quiet reminder of brothers who never returned to quarters. Three of our firefighters gave their lives in service of their country in World War II. Their names are enshrined on a wall and their deeds are remembered forever in our hearts.

Even though we have never met, we remember…

Michael H. Korn

Ensign Michael Henry Korn

Ensign Michael Henry Korn, age 21, served stateside in the U.S. Naval Reserve and flew an FM-1 Wildcat. His brothers, Karl, William, Jacob, and Daniel also served in the U.S. Army during World War II. Michael died on January 27, 1944 while on a training flight near Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Jacksonville, Florida. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
» Learn More: About Michael in Away for Victory Book

Hersal B. Cralle

Staff Sergeant Hersal Benton Cralle

Staff Sergeant Hersal Benton Cralle, age 20, served in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 339th Bomber Squadron, 96th Bomber Group H. He was awarded the Purple Heart, Air medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and numerous other Army awards. Hersal was the Ball Turret Operator on a B-17 bomber named “Ain’t Misbehavin.” His squadron was on a bombing mission to take out targets inside Germany, when the plane was hit by enemy fire over Lindhorst, Germany, about 200 miles west of Berlin. According to the lone survivor of the crew, who was able to parachute out in time, the plane blew up in mid air. Staff Sergeant Cralle is buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neupre, Belgium.
» See the Short Snorter Signed by the Crew During their Atlantic Crossing
» What’s a Short Snorter?

Julius M. Vajda

Private First Class Julius Michael Vajda

Private First Class Julius Michael Vajda, age 20, served with the 30th Infantry Division, 119th Infantry Regiment in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. He received the Bronze Star on July 29, 1944 and the Purple Heart. Julius came from family that served others; his sister Rose was an Army nurse and sister Margaret was a WAVE. The Vajda family paid a heavy price during World War II, losing two children within a year. Margaret, who served as a Pharmacist Mate in the Navy, was killed when her plane crashed at Olathe Naval Air Station in Kansas on February 26, 1944. Less than a year later, Julius was killed in Belgium during the St. Vith Offensive at the Battle of the Bulge on January 14, 1945. He was buried at the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium but his remains were later returned to the United States to be re-buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
» Read: The Original Bronze Star Citation
» Photos: From Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium & Arlington National Cemetery

Our Veterans

These were three of many CHVFD brothers that have defended their country through our department’s century of service. Even the CHVFD ladies Auxiliary, the first fire department ladies auxiliary in the U.S., put on their boots and jumped on the back step while the boys were at war – they protected the home front during World War II.
From all ranks of the department, our members have served in both war time and peace time – from the Spanish American War right up to the War in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’ve been parted from their loved ones and braved harsh, dangerous conditions; our soldiers have been injured or captured, and many escaped harm by a matter of seconds.

We celebrate all of our veterans and honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom. This Memorial Day, please take the time to pause and reflect on the sacrifices of all of our fallen military heroes, especially Staff Sergeant Hersal Benton Cralle, Ensign Michael Henry Korn and Private 1st Class Julius Michael Vajda. These men are decorated war heroes who gave their lives so we could live free. We can never repay them but we can keep them in our hearts and minds so they are never forgotten.

For more information about members of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department who have served or are serving in the U.S. military please visit our veteran’s page at: www.chvfd.org/veterans.