Three years, six months and ten days. That's how long local resident Ed Marus served in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II. In honor of Memorial Day, Marus recently sat down in his immaculate Greendale home to share some photos and memories with the Patch.
The year was 1943 and World War II was at its height when nineteen year old Ed Marus decided to enlist. After training in Michigan and New Jersey, Marus was sent to the Aleutian Islands, in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska.
Japanese forces had attacked the islands in 1942 and the U.S. had launched a battle to regain control of them. Both sides considered the islands to have great strategic value for controlling shipping routes and as a base for attacks by either side on the other country.
Marus' job there was to serve as an Electronic Technician Mate, which involved maintaining radio beacons used by ships for positioning and navigating. By the time Marus got there, the U.S. forces had ousted the Japanese, which saved Marus from being involved in any direct combat. While stationed there, he hoped to be moved to a place with more action, but that didn't happen.
With a shrug, he says, "That's how it was. You were in the military and you went where they sent you and did what they told you to do."
When Marus was nominated to go on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. earlier this year, at first he felt he wasn't deserving to go, considering some of the other veterans going on the trip had been in places like Iwo Jima where they had fought in some of the war's bloodiest battles.
Finally he was convinced to go on the trip in April of this year and he's glad he went. He said he really enjoyed seeing all the war memorials in Washington, D.C. and meeting with other veterans and military personnel.
When his service commitment ended in 1946, the war was already over and the military wasn't looking for soldiers to re-enlist, so Marus joined the civilian ranks. He began a career in educational sales, selling equipment and print materials to schools. He and his wife moved to Greendale in 1963 where they raised a son and a daughter.
Although his service ended sixty-five years ago, Marus keeps his military ties by actively participating in veterans' groups including the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Post #180.
Marus reflects on all the changes since he was in the service, saying, "Back then, there wasn't all this dissension between our political parties and we weren't fighting terrorists like we are now."
"I just hope someday this will all be resolved and our servicemen and women can all come home and lead a decent life."
Still, Marus believes joining the military would not hurt the young people of today because its helps teach responsibility as well as gives them experience and allows them to see other parts of the world they might not otherwise see.
On this Memorial Day, Marus will be spending part of it with his son, but he plans to be back in time to stop at the cementary and pay respect to his brothers, two of whom served in the U.S. Army and another in the Coast Guard. All of them died stateside.
Marus says he'll be sad to miss the Memorial Day parade in Greendale, which he normally attends every year. However, he definitely plans to be at this year's Fourth of July parade in the village. He has to be - he is serving as the parade's Grand Marshall, along with Don Luettgen, another Greendale veteran and a friend of his.
As he rides down Broad Street this July 4th, you may even see him wearing the jacket he was given on the Honor Flight this spring, with one of his favorite sayings embroidered on the back - "Every Day is a Bonus." It's something Marus hopes we will all keep in mind as we celebrate on this Memorial Day, in honor of those who served and those who never got any bonus days.