By Molly Moser
When Ben Krall graduated from high school in 1937, he was already reading everything he could find on Hitler’s conquest of Europe. Just three years later, Krall and 20 other young men from Charles City enlisted on a cold December night. When Ben passed away this spring, he was the only man of those twenty-one remaining.
Ben’s son, Tom Krall, is a staple of Clayton Ridge athletic programs and a familiar voice in the St. Mary’s church choir in Guttenberg. Tom remembers his father’s patriotism as one of the most important values he shared throughout his life. “He would never miss his yearly army reunions. He felt a pretty important tie with these guys, the 34th Red Bull Division, and he was actually the president of the national group for a couple of years,” said Tom.
Ben spoke publicly about his experiences in World War II, visiting elementary schools, high schools, and nursing homes near his home in Charles City. He also put many of his stories down on paper.
When he enlisted, Ben and the others from Charles City expected to be in and out in one year. It wasn’t meant to be.