CHICAGO - Robert Krautstrunk joined the Navy in January, 1944 and served as a Radioman 2nd Class in the waning days of World War II on the USS Requin (SS 481). While the Requin (ray-quin) was on its first combat patrol in the Sea of Japan when the war ended, for Krautstrunk, it was the start of a lifetime of service, accomplishments, and making a difference in his community.
“Bob Krautstrunk’s contributions to his community, his fellow veterans and our country are clear,” said Rodrigo Garcia, Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. “He volunteered for the Submarine Force in WWII, and once back home as a veteran, he was a business leader, entrepreneur, and a volunteer, making his community a better place. He is a great example of how our veterans continue to serve and make a difference.”
The Requin was a Tench-class submarine and the only ship of the U.S. Navy to be named after the requin, a sand shark. As a “plank-holder” on the Requin, Krautstrunk was a member of the initial crew who took the boat from its commissioning in April 1945 to combat patrol duty in the Pacific just as the Japanese surrendered, ending World War II. He received his honorable discharge in May 1946 and returned to Chicago.
After discharge, he returned to his Bell & Howell job until hired by the Hawthorn-Mellody Dairy as a home delivery milkman in 1950. In 1976 he left Hawthorn-Mellody as the President and General Manager of the Chicago Divisions, and entered into grocery store ownership that included Cary Finer Foods and Fairway Foods, and retired in 1990.
Krautstrunk also served his community through a wide variety of roles, including public speaking, more than 1,500 hospital and homeless shelter volunteer hours with Holy Family Hospital, five years coaching Little and PONY League teams, as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, completing handy-man projects for the Trinity Lutheran Church of Des Plaines, supporting the Food Pantry of Grayslake, and he was active in the Stephens' Ministry Group. His leadership and service in the veteran community included service as the State Commander, Submarine Veterans of WWII (SVWWII), organizer of community Memorial Day and memorial service events, and as a charitable donation coordinator to the Chicago Cubs, Bears and White Sox on behalf of the SVWWII.
Ruth, his wife of 68 years, and their children - Kent Krautstrunk and Gale Burke - attended the ceremony, in addition to friends, supporters and fellow veterans. He was nominated for this recognition by Gene Weisbecker, the President, Submarine Veterans of WWII Greater Chicago Chapter.
He was honored at a mid-day gathering of the SVWWII Greater Chicago Chapter by IDVA Acting Director Garcia. The meeting took place at the Silver Stallion Restaurant, Des Plaines, IL, today and was attended by more than 50 other veterans and community members. During the ceremony Krautstrunk thanked and acknowledged his wife Ruth “…of almost 69 years…” for her support, his children and his fellow veterans as well.