Ralph Krafnick Oral History
Ralph E. Krafnick was born on May 10, 1917 in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He attended St. Mary’s grade school then Cathedral High School until 1937 when he joined the Navy. After Krafnick retired from the Navy and Army in 1959, he was employed by the Minnesota State University System for 20 years, including some time at St. Cloud State in the mid-1960s. He retired in 1979. Krafnick was involved in many veterans groups in St. Cloud and Waite Park, MN, including founding member and past president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, Minnesota Chapter. He married Renee Buttweiler on October 31, 1942 in Oakland, California. Renee passed away in 1987. On September 23, 1989, Krafnick married Dolores Barbarossa in St. Cloud. He passed away on March 17, 2013 at the St. Cloud Veterans Affairs Medical Center at the age of 95.
His daughter Mary was a long time employee at St. Cloud State University, retiring in 2006 from the University Library.
Krafnick discussed only briefly his education before describing his military background. He joined the National Guard when he was 16 years old and was also with the Civilian Military Training Corp. In 1937, Krafnick joined the Navy and trained at Great Lakes, where he played basketball before shipping out in San Diego on a destroyer. He described his experiences, duties, activities and travels while on the destroyer.
Krafnick described the experiences of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He was playing catch on the deck of the USS New Orleans when Japanese planes attacked. During the attack, he manned a gun on ship as well as carrying ammunition and loading the guns. Krafnick said only one sailor was hurt from the attack on the USS New Orleans. He discussed in detail the experience and the crew’s response to the crisis. What Krafnick remembered most was how the Navy got together quickly to react to the crisis. Krafnick did see action in the Pacific Theatre at Guadalcanal, Coral Sea, and Midway but did not go into any detail.
Lastly, Krafnick discussed more about his relations, duties, and experiences aboard naval ships after World War II. He traveled and took pictures whenever he could of the places he visited. During the Korean War, Krafnick was in the Army. After the Korean War, he rejoined the Navy and was recruiting sailors in St. Cloud. In 1959, Krafnick was asked to be stationed in Korea. He refused and decided to retire from military service instead.
Interview by David Overy
St. Cloud State University, "Ralph Krafnick Oral History" (1990). World War II Veterans. 15.