Alaska WWII veteran passes away
It may sound like a familiar story to many people who moved to Alaska. They came here for just a visit but extended their stay. In Fred Stassel's case, his honeymoon visit lasted more than six decades.
Stassel and his new bride Jean picked Alaska as their honeymoon destination in 1949. They started their journey to the Last Frontier just one day after getting married in Wisconsin. They wanted to drive the Alcan Highway. They ended up in Anchorage and put down roots at what is now a well-known medical facility in town.
"When they came to Anchorage before they got a place to stay, they pitched their tent on the current site of Providence Hospital," Stassel's daughter Linda told KTVA.
Stassel and his wife Jean stayed in Alaska and raised a family, which included six children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Fred Stassel's daughters say he led an active life as a garbage truck driver, commercial fisherman, railroad and mine worker, math and science teacher and was on the board of directors for Credit Union One.
They say their dad didn't talk about World War II a lot. He served three years in Europe driving a supply truck to support combat troops.
"I'm very proud of him," Linda said.
His daughters say he did once talk about guarding war criminals during WWII, including Herman Goring, who planned the murders of millions of Jews.
"Rode with him in the car, guarded him for a day," Joan said.
In April, Fred traveled to Washington D.C. for an honor flight with other Alaska veterans to tour war memorials. His daughters say he was moved by the support veterans received at the airport in Portland. The group stopped there before heading to Washington D.C.
"There was like a block and a half of people lined up in the airport terminal, just cheering them on," Joan said. "These are people who live in Oregon, they don't even know these guys. They were just cheering them on and I think they were just all so appreciative."
Fred Stassel's Alaskan journey ended where it began. His daughters say their dad passed away at Providence Hospital Sept. 21. He was 94 years old.
Funeral services are set for Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. at Turnagain United Methodist Church in Anchorage.
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