Edison High graduate Richard Kraus was barely 18 when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943. In October 1944. He was part of the amphibious assault on the island of Peleliu in the South Pacific and during the battle had volunteered with three other Marines to evacuate a wounded comrade from the front lines. During the operation they encountered Japanese soldiers, one of whom threw a grenade at them. Private First Class Kraus used his body to block the force of the grenade and died while saving his three comrades. For his bravery he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
Some members of Edison’s class of 1966, including veterans John Hoyny and Al Zdon, were investigating the school’s contribution in World War II with Edison Social Studies teacher David Salzer as part of the school’s Centennial activities. Salzer showed them the 1946 Wizard yearbook with the pictures of the 116 Edison graduates who died in World War II. Then they discovered Richard Kraus’ Medal of Honor award, and with support and donations from the Northeast Lions, Falldin American Legion Post and the Edison Community and Sports Foundation, produced a plaque in Kraus’ honor. It was unveiled at the recent Centennial celebration. On Friday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day,) there was a presentation in the auditorium celebrating the life of Richard Kraus that included letters and voice recordings during his military service, an interview with Kraus’ sister Mary and a photo of a telegram from the War Department informing the family of Kraus’ death. At the podium, career journalist Zdon spoke of Kraus’ actions, saying, “By honoring him, we honor the sacrifice and dedication of one who was willing to die for his friends and his country.”
After the ceremony, which was Edison’s Veteran’s Day observance, alumni, both active duty military and veterans, talked with students and answered their questions.
Below: Recent Edison grads on Army active duty speak with students and answer their questions. The plaque honoring Richard Kraus, a 1943 Edison graduate will be displayed in the Edison lobby. (Photos by Mark Peterson)