Jim Krajewski: Veteran Spotlight

Writer / Natalie Platt
Photography Provided

At 85 years old, Jim Krajewski has a sharp memory – and wit. The veteran meets with friends every Friday morning for coffee and cards at an office within a barn owned by his good friend, Jack Talbert. Another attendee, Larry Waddell, who owns a grocery store in Russiaville, helps organize an oyster fry they have at the farm.Jim Krajewski

But before the coffee, cards and oysters, Krajewski served from 1959 to 1961 in the United States Navy, spending two years and 27 days on the USS Wasp CVS-18. Education was important to him while serving, and he started on-the-job training as a welder and was part of the repair division. At the end of his service, Krajewski’s rank was shipfitter (metalsmith) third class.

He was busy serving, too. Krajewski’s ship did anti-submarine warfare up and down the coast, from Newfoundland to the South Atlantic, looking for submarines. He even spent time in Guantanamo Bay and on an airbase in Cuba.

While on a six-month assignment in the Mediterranean, Krajewski was able to see France, Spain and Greece. He even requested that his brother, on shore duty in South Carolina, join his unit on the Mediterranean and the Navy allowed it, as they had an opening. The brothers spent two years on the ship together and got to see places they would never have been able to otherwise.

He recalls spending 35 days at sea in West Africa, with the ocean on one side of town and a desert on another.

“That’s quite an experience for a sailor from Russiaville, Indiana,” Krajewski says.

The Indiana native graduated from high school in 1956 and was part of the draft. He decided the United States Navy looked the most inviting, particularly because of the education possibilities. Krajewski says he wanted to go to electronic school in the Navy and spend four more years serving to do so, but his request was during Vietnam and the Navy only wanted those who could drive boats.

“They saw on my record that I was a waterskier and figured I was also a boat driver, but they would have been disappointed,” he says.

He passed on the opportunity.Jim Krajewski

Krajewski was joined by his brothers in the service. Two brothers were also in the Navy while one was a Marine.

“My mother was quite the empty nester,” he says.

His brother-in-law, Tipton resident Bill Green, also served. They enjoy connecting the dots about their service days and where they crossed paths.

Krajewski met his wife at Frisch’s Big Boy drive-in restaurant in the early 1960s, after he was home from the Navy. They had one son, Jeffrey. As his wife has now passed, Krajewski is quick to note how well Green’s wife takes care of him and he is very grateful.

After serving, Jim Krajewski worked at a steel mill, then at Delco for 30 years in engineering and as a maintenance supervisor. He now spends time volunteering with Cross America and St. Vincent Hospital.

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