Me You Us, sponsored by Consumers Energy, dives deeper into the physical, financial, emotional, social, and professional pillars that make up our overall well-being and contribute to our mental health. Through the sharing of personal experiences and conversations with industry experts, we can collaboratively support one another and increase our consideration for the personal well-being of those around us.

This is part 1 of my conversation with Stan Mazur, who served his country as a Sea Bee in the Navy.  He has raised a family, had a career, and continues to serve.  Listen in as he talks about what it took to bring the USS Arizona Memorial to the city of Jackson Michigan.

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1218548/9941638-go-for-it-grandpa-featuring-stan-mazur-pt-1.mp3?download=true

William Krieger 

Hello everyone and welcome to Me You Us, a wellbeing podcast. It’s another wellbeing Wednesday here at Consumers Energy, and I’m your host Bill Krieger. Today we’re going to do something a little different. I was actually able to interview my next guest in person. We were at the Jackson airport in a small restaurant, so please forgive the background noise. But you won’t want to miss out in this first part of a two-part series as I talked to Stan Mazur about his service in the military and how he’s continued to serve throughout his life. Good morning. My guest today is Stan Mazur. He is from Jackson and was instrumental in putting together the USS Arizona memorial here in Jackson. So, Stan, if you’d introduce yourself, we’ll get the conversation started.

Stan 

All right, Bill. Good morning and happy new year. Again, my name is Stan Mazur…background, I’m 86 years old. I’ve been married 63 years. I’ve got three children. I’ve got four grandchildren and two step granddaughters. I’ve lived here in Jackson since around 1970. I’m originally from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, it’s a suburb outside of Pittsburgh. And I graduated from Kingsport High School, a vocational high school. And after graduation, I went into the Navy with two of my buddies. And upon Navy boot camp training, I was assigned to a builder school in Port Hueneme, California, which I was graduated first in my class and had to pick of what duty choices were available. My choice was to go to Sasebo Japan, public works for a couple of years. Upon which completion of builder’s school I was a seaman apprentice made semen or construction men and in Sasebo, Japan and I made third class builder. Spent a couple of years there and then was assigned to mobile construction battalion 11, which they just came off of the mission and Kwajalein and went to Port Hueneme to basically regroup and RR that sort of thing. And I was destined to go to Adak Alaska. And during that time, I’m a second-class builder. And fortunately for me, my shore duty came into play. Rather than going up to Adak Alaska with mobile construction battalion 11, I went to Bainbridge, Maryland. And I was assigned to a supply department, which was a very plush assignment. A lot of the Seabees that were there that was in public works, was surprised to see me and the enlisted men’s club with the Seabee rating and wondered where in the world did I fly in from. So it was a little bit unorthodox, but we got to know one another in that fashion. That’s where I met my wife of 63 years, she was in the WAVES and was at a bar one time waiting on my buddies on a Saturday. And at that time, they you had a jukebox that you could dance to. And she was sitting at a table with three of her WAVE girlfriends. And I was still waiting for my buddy to show up at the bar and had enough beer in me, the liquid courage so to speak. And was able to go and ask her to dance that she refused me. I went back to the ward my buddy showed up and that was a Saturday. Sunday it’s the same scenario, I’m at the bar waiting for my buddy. Next thing I know somebody tapped me on the shoulder and the juke box was playing a slow dance. And it was her. I almost fell off the barstool. That was the start. About four months passage of time, we got married.

William Krieger 

So, needless to say you accepted the dance. You didn’t refuse her. I’m assuming.

Stan 

It was music, that was my one of my favorites. But that’s pretty much the story is how I did get together with Mrs. Mazur, Mrs. Meredith Mazur. She was from Hurricane West by God Virginia. Anyway, I, I decided to try to…my four-year contract was over with, I still had nine months left on my shore duty at Bainbridge. She was still in the Navy. I figured if I extend one year, according to the personnel manager, guy, he said, ‘Sure, you’ll stay right here Stan just sign, just sign on the dotted line.’

William Krieger 

So I gotta stop you for a minute there, Stan, because I spent 10 years in the Navy myself. And I know many times when someone says to me, sure, just sign here, it’ll happen. It doesn’t always happen. So what happened when you sign on the dotted line?

Stan 

Oh, about a week passage of time, I got orders for a mobile construction battalion four and that was the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as me making a career out of the Navy. I did have to abide by the assignment. And that broke my wife and I apart, she got out of the Navy, because that time, a WAVE, even if you’re under a four-year contract, which she was, you could get out from under that contract by either getting married or getting pregnant. In our case, we got married because the pregnancy came a little bit later.

William Krieger 

Right, right. Understood. So, for the audience that doesn’t know though. Just kind of wanted to clue them in a WAVE is what we called Women in the in the Navy. Correctz/ All right, back in the day, this is World War Two Korean War era that that that was women were known as waves.

Stan 

Waves, in the Army, they were WACs and Air Force they were WAFs, Marine Corps. I don’t know.

William Krieger 

Probably just Marines, I guess.

Stan 

Women Marines. But after the one year that I was assigned to the mobile construction battalion four our mission was down in Puerto Rico. Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. Well, we did a lot of different things: apartment housing, we renovated an area on Vieques Island that was basically a lot of revetments that stored munitions in case England had to be kicked was kicked out of England, England by the Germans during the Second World War, their next bastion was Puerto Rico, to wherever they would try to reconnoiter and get together and maybe still keep the fight Island currently. So….

William Krieger 

I don’t think a lot of people know that that I mean, I didn’t know that. That’s interesting. And I’ve been to Roosevelt Roads several times in my Navy career.

Stan 

Well, the Vieques Island, we had a bunch of buildings, revetments, basically were ignored over several years. And this time, that time it was trying to think of the actual year would have been about 1958 1959. They decided to renovate these buildings. They had like big, huge aircraft hangar type doors that were rusting and deteriorating that we had to beef up. We had a gravel road system, throughout the revetment area. We had basically there was a place where you could get the rock, we had to do some blasting, we set up a grizzly, to get the stone down to right size particle for spreading. And one of the revetment buildings was reinforced concrete. We had to bust a bunch of holes into it for windows and doors, so they could convert it into an area for a unit to be stationed on base there, on Vieques rather than living in a tent.

William Krieger 

So the interesting thing about Vieques Island is, so I didn’t know about this history, right where people were living there and doing work there. Now when I was in the Navy in the early to mid-80s, Vieques Island was where we we’ve we bombed and used it for gunnery. Now here’s something else, my son got married a few years ago, and they went on vacation on Vieques island. So it’s really kind of done a lot of different things that I don’t know that people know the history of it.

Stan 

Well, the Marines had a base there in the so-called City portion or town portion, or village portion of the island but you’re correct they did use that for training. Amphibious landings by the Marine corps and bombing. Yes, they use that as a military type training center. I went to West Virginia, my wife’s hometown, so I got on as a journeyman carpenter. And fortunately, being in the Seabees I didn’t have to spend any apprenticeship training; I answered a few questions to the business agent of the Union and got on as a journeyman and I made my big money of $3.33 cents per hour.

William Krieger 

Well, that was big money back then, though, wasn’t it?

Stan 

That was big money. And of course the work, construction was seasonal. I ended up getting on board Union Carbide and the labor gang in hopes of getting into their carpenter shop on the base. And that never came about so I was in the labor gang. I was either loading Prestone freeze in a boxcar or tractor trailer, or during the winter and work on the railroad, putting in switches and ties. And then let’s came to the antifreeze muck right back into handling carton drums of antifreeze and putting them in boxcars like a shipping department.

William Krieger 

Not exactly what you were hoping for.

Stan 

Not exactly and after three years of that I had a bellyful. I decided I’ll go back into the Navy. And I did go back in for two years, I had to reduce my rank from first class, to second class. I accepted that as an entry for my second tour with the Navy. That was just the right timing for me to go to mobile construction battalion seven. I went down to Camp Lejeune and camp Geiger got Marine Corps training. Prior to going down to GITMO Cuba during the Cuban crisis. We reinforced another battalion that was there. And we’re building MLR main line of resistance, bunkers, pill boxes, that sort of thing. And fortunately, the Russians took the missiles on, that would have been a hell of a hit on us. As soon as we stuck the shovel or backhoe in the ground for a bunker or pill box position, the other side had plotted surface with a surface-to-surface missile. Basically, they had it targeted. And if, if they would have fired the first salvo, they estimated we would have had a 95% casualty rate in the first half hour.

William Krieger 

It probably wouldn’t have been much of a battle.

Stan 

No, it wouldn’t have been much of a battle. We were actually still buying water from Cuba. We had a $50,000 a month water bill. Yes, that was monitored 24/7 every second to make sure that there wasn’t any poison or yeah. But Cubans, they liked that $50,000 American money. And meantime, we had a couple of ships tanker that was stored with water in the harbor area in case the war did come about. Anyway, after that two-year assignment with MCB seven, I figured the grass was greener as a civilian. I had a couple officers help me put together….in the meantime I was with seven, I was not only building bunkers and pillboxes. They assigned me to staff in the planning and scheduling and the logistics of the national battalion at that time. So I had some background in planning and scheduling, cost estimating and so forth, that I utilized with that particular command. And with that under my belt, was able to have a couple of officers put together to help me put together a resume. And I kicked that resume on and I got my first civilian job, with southern Engineering Corporation in Washington DC. They were developers of apartments. They had about 5,000 units going on three different states. And I did estimate and planning and scheduling for that company. And the grass got a little bit more greener went to another construction company in Cleveland, Ohio. And that came about, they had a project going on in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania at the time. So, I called in sick to be interviewed by a construction manager, project manager. I went to Harrisburg, had a chat with them. They liked what they heard from me. They liked the resume. So, I got a huge improvement. I went from like 125 bucks a week to 200. So ended up in Cleveland, Ohio area, roughly around 1970. And in the meantime, my wife and I, we got a little bit busier. And we had two more kids.

William Krieger 

So you’re up to how many now? Three kids in 1970. 

Stan 

Two daughters and one son. They’re all here in the Jackson area with me. Very fortunate to have family still intact. Well, my, my trip from the Cleveland area, I went from the construction company to a petrochemical, and I worked for them as a scheduler went back to the Cleveland construction as an estimator. And from there, I went to HK Ferguson Company, which was a huge developer all the Anheuser Busch breweries were done by the HK Ferguson Company. And from there, I went to Commonwealth associates here in Jackson. That’s how I got to Jackson.

William Krieger 

And so all of this really came from that five years that you spent in the Seabees. You kind of parlayed that into these jobs that built on each other. So it was really your military background that kind of got you in the door.

Stan 

Pretty much, pretty much military background, in conjunction with some of my own personal educational efforts. I am not a graduate engineer, but I am a registered professional engineer in the state of Michigan. And I am actually a certified cost engineer. I haven’t practiced as much lately, in retirement. I’ve been retired since about 1985. So, I’ve tried to set up my own shingle as a consultant, because at that time, I was a registered professional engineer. And I tried to make a go but working out of my toolbox and whatever I could to make ends meet. And that was a little bit rough shoals parts of my life are not on the bright side. So, after leaving Commonwealth Associates, going into retirement, pretty much got involved community wise, a member of the Kiwanis Club and through our Kiwanis Club, right now we’re in a process of buying 96 bikes and helmets to prepare for March reading month here in the state of Michigan. And we’re into 28 elementary schools. Some schools get two bike and helmets some get three depends on student body. But this program impacts 11,000 youngsters in Jackson County. We also do like dictionaries for third graders, Baby Care needs for unwed mothers’, bell ringer for Salvation Army things of that nature, which is typical of a service club. Whether you’re optimist, Rotary Kiwanis, or lions. Those are all good.

William Krieger 

So, Stan, let’s talk about that for a minute. Because this is really where the idea for the USS Arizona Memorial came from if I’m not mistaken. Please talk a little bit about the work you were doing and the conversation that you had with your son around that and kind of how that first started out. And how long ago was that when that was just an idea.

Stan 

All right, well, and in that respect, back in July of 2019, I was getting a publication “The Can Do” is all about Seabee’s past, present and future. And one of the articles in that particular issue was related to the USS Arizona. And what I gleaned from that article is back in the 1950s, they had to remove a large segment and superstructure due to safety and corrosion. They use that large segment to support some of the gangway catwalk, to the visitors’ billboard, on the launch to go to the memorial as we know it today. Well, in 1995, US Congress legislated the relics program, removed that segment, put in proper foundations for that gangway catwalk. And then cut that segment up and delve in on to worthy recipients. The piece that we did yet is from a piece that was removed in the 50s. So, they’re not cutting up the memorial as we know it today. I want to make that clear.

William Krieger 

It’s important for people to know, right, we didn’t just dive down and cut a chunk of the USS Arizona bring it to Jackson.

Stan 

I ran into a lot of that during the pursuit of getting a piece of USS Arizona as far as fundraising some of the money that was required in order to put this in play. So, with that information, knowing the fact that we could possibly get a piece of it. We in the Kiwanis again, we have a project Kiwanis Flowering Tree Project to beautify Cascades Park with flowering trees, and that park is now setting not only the memorial for the 911 but also a piece of the USS Arizona is all in the same general location.

William Krieger 

And I don’t want to interrupt you, Stan, but for anyone listening, if you’ve not been to Cascades Park, you need to check it out. When I was a kid, my mom used to bring us to cascades park all the time. And it’s always just been a beautiful place to go with your family. It’s very peaceful. It’s amazing just to walk around and see what’s there. So, I want to make sure I got that out there because the work that’s been done at cascades Park is just amazing and it’s been that way for a while

Stan 

Well, the falls is their main attraction. Cascade falls in the park. It’s about a 500-acre park, they got the Lily ball fields in the park. They got a huge lagoon type area where they used to be able to do paddle boats to do fishing there. And they got to Splish Splash Pool. At one time they intended to build a visitor center. But we we’ve got roughly 300 trees have been adopted as part of our Flowering Tree program. And my son and his son, my grandson, and another youngster, we were mulching trees in close proximity to where the Twin Tower exhibit is on site. And you’re able to see that from where we were mulching some of the trees, part of our flowering tree project. And just to carry conversation knowing the possibility, I read the article on the USS Arizona to carry conversation with my grandson and his buddy, Owen Campbell and Carter Mazur. And I said ‘Remember Pearl Harbor’ and they looked at me as I was some weirdo and Carter, my grandson, asked ‘why in the world do you say that Grandpa?’ And I explained it, ‘You see that showcase over there with the Twin Tower Memorial? We could possibly get a piece of USS Arizona and put it in a similar sized showcase in the same general area. And what do you guys think? I value your opinions.’ And my grandson Carter says, ‘Go for it grandpa.’

William Krieger 

Unfortunately, that’s all the time we have today. Thank you to the audience for tuning in. Please listen in next week so you can hear the rest of Stan’s story. It’s pretty incredible. And we’ll find out a Stan does go for it like his grandson told him to thank you to the audience for listening in today. The Me You Us podcast is proudly sponsored by Consumers Energy leaving Michigan better than we found it. Remember, you can find the Me You Us podcast on all major podcasting platforms. So be sure to go out find us and subscribe. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. That’s 1-800-273-8255 If you are a veteran or know a Veteran who is in crisis, you can call 1-800-273-8255 in press one for the Veterans Crisis Line. And remember to tune in every Wednesday as we talk about the things that impact your personal wellbeing.