By KEITH ROGERS
Courtesy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal
2 August 2008
As was his style throughout life, from his days as a decorated World War II torpedo-bomber pilot to when he played guard on Ohio State's football team to his 30 combat missions in the Korean War, Michael H. Krouse fought a tenacious battle with cancer that ended with his death Thursday, his son said. He was 86.
“As in his life his timing was always on his terms,” his son, M. Joseph Krouse, wrote in an e-mail after his father, a Navy Cross recipient, died upon arriving at a Las Vegas hospice Thursday evening.
“He knew it was time and didn't want to go to sleep on Wednesday night. … We said our good-byes, as both of us knew this would be the last time we saw each other. His final words were, ‘Well, that's it. I'm done.'”
Michael Henry Krouse was born July 26, 1922 in Columbus Grove, Ohio. After graduating from Bowling Green High School in 1942 he joined the Navy to train as a pilot determined to fly in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was eventually assigned to a torpedo-bomber crew on board the USS Enterprise.
On October 25, 1944, he and his wing man spotted a Japanese battleship while flying 20,000 feet over the ocean north of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines then swooped down just a few feet above the waves to fire torpedoes that severely damaged the ship.
“Undaunted by intense enemy anti-aircraft fire … Krouse pressed home vigorous attacks,” his Navy Cross citation reads. “His courage, expert airmanship and unwavering devotion to duty contributed to the success of his squadron in fulfilling this dangerous mission.”
The week before the Battle for Leyte Gulf, Krouse and his crew survived a night at sea in life rafts when they were forced to ditch their plane because it was running low on fuel on the return from a mission in Manila Bay.
“The next day at dawn … the leader of the fighters on this attack came right over us and saw us and he came down real low, and he recognized me and I recognized him, and I said, ‘We're going to get picked up,'” he told the Review-Journal in a June interview.
Never wounded in combat, he amassed many medals for valor in World War II and the Korean War, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven Air Medals.
Between the wars, he studied industrial engineering at Ohio State University and played right guard on the football team's offensive line. He left the university in 1949 to return to the Navy, serving as division leader of a fighter plane squadron on the USS Princeton.
After 30 combat missions, he attended the Navy's post- graduate school in electronics and was a test pilot as part of a research program on nuclear weapons delivery tactics.
He later served as an executive officer and flight instructor for a training squadron and headed an aircraft maintenance unit at Alameda Naval Air Station, California.
He retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 1963 and moved to Las Vegas where he was hired as a scientific executive for a Nevada Test Site contractor, EG&G Inc.
In 1967, he was an executive with Exec Air out of McCarran Field, retiring soon after to play golf and poker.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Lola Pinta Krouse, of Las Vegas, and had been married to the late Julia Mary Krouse for 23 years until 1965.
He also leaves his daughter, Toni Ninette Langson, of Carson City; son, Michael David Krouse, of Phoenix; son M. Joseph Krouse of San Francisco; four granddaughters and nine great grandchildren.
He will be buried with full military honors November 12, 2008, at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard