What We Can Learn From WWII Veteran William (Bill) Criswell
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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Recall our previous post at the beginning of this week, May 28, 2018, about “How People In Windermere Remember Our Veterans“, it seems befitting to end our week with some words of wisdom and reminder from our local WWII veteran and part of the driving force behind the Windermere Veterans Memorial project (along with rest of the Windermere Veteran Memorial Project Design Team: Gary Bruhn, Stephen Fasen, and Stephen Withers), Mr. William (Bill) C. Criswell of Windermere.
From past experience, I’ve learned that those who are able to live past 90 generally have much to teach us. Before I even met Mr. Criswell for an interview, I’ve already learned that he is a well informed and cautious planner. He rescheduled our original interview day/time to Tuesday, May 29, 2018, 9:30 am, after having checked the weather forecast. So that we were able to have a nice chat outdoor at the Windermere Veterans Memorial without being drenched. At age 93, Mr. Criswell is still driving, very cautiously. His cautious nature brought him to Trinidad (East of North Africa) during WWII, as one of the 325,000 men served as Seabees during WWII. His duty was building hospital and treating the water in preparation for casualties due to arrive from North Africa. Below, Mr. Criswell describes the sentiment at the time, when Americans all united to protect democracy, “men and women, young and old, even children had a role….they knew stakes were high. Defeat was not an option….entire nation came together with discipline, courage, and self-sacrifice to achieve great victory of good over evil….more than 400,000 of our countrymen gave their lives to achieve this victory….their legacy is a legacy of freedom. It is our legacy.”
During World War II the Seabees constructed over 400 advanced bases, in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. In the Atlantic their work helped to protect the Panama Canal and Atlantic convoys, and to support operations in North Africa, Sicily, and mainland Italy, and the D-Day landings and subsequently in Western Europe, especially the crossing of the Rhine. In the Pacific, where 80% of Seabees were deployed, they built advanced bases to defend the Aleutian Islands and to support American advances in the South Pacific – starting from the Society Islands – and in the Central Pacific, starting from the Gilberts, Marshalls, Carolines, and Marianas. The Pacific war often found the Seabees in close support of invasion forces, taking part in unloading supplies, and quickly constructing or restoring harbours, airstrips and other facilities on newly captured islands. Their role in such operations as the invasion of Okinawa was central in bringing the war to its close.
Mr. Criswell continues with stories of his life experience from growing up in Euclid, OH, two and half years of being a Seabee during WWII, returning home from WWII on his father’s birthday, getting his college degree in Kent State University, and his life time of building: working 29 years at H.C. Buchanan Concrete Inc. and retired as the Vice President; former President of the Central Florida Builders Exchange; former President of West Orange Habitat for Humanity; and former President of the Rotary Club of Windermere, FL.
There is much we can all learn from this WWII veteran: his work ethics, planning ahead, perseverance, giving credits to those he worked with, and always having a sense of gratitude. These are the ingredients that have helped him to rise victorious from WWII, as well as from his battle with cancers. Truly, we can honestly say that our community is a better place to have some one such as Bill Criswell in it.
Photographed, gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
More about the community at www.WindermereSun.com
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