Crossen Combat Chronicles

Biography of a WWII Artilleryman - by Chip Heyl


Stories of War

Milan woman's book offers glimpse into the life of World War II soldier — her father

By KATIE WALSH - Sandusky Register (Ohio) | Wednesday, February 20 2008

Sue McCreery Sue McCreery's father told her war stories when she was a child.

John Crossen was consumed by his experiences as an artilleryman in World War II, and relayed to his daughter all that he had seen and done during three and a half years in the Pacific. But like most children, McCreery's attention was fleeting.

"The war was his life," said McCreery. a Milan resident. "It's a typical children's thing just to not listen, and I didn't give his stories that attention I wish I had.

Years later, she is the contributing author of a new book about her father's time in the Phillipines, titled Crossen Combat Chronicles. The book's main author, Chip Heyl, will present the book Thursday at BGSU Fireland's Elder College.

For the first few years of McCreery's life, her father was absent.

She was born two days before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and within three months, her father was deployed overseas. He would not come home until she was nearly 4 years old.

After Crossen's return, the father and daughter got to know each other, bonding until his death in 1965. And that's when McCreery received the boxes of war memorabilia her father left her.

"The daily journals typed by Army clerks were just filled with information about battles," McCreery said. "I wanted to share it with the world."

With the idea of writing a thesis paper about her father, McCreey contacted Heyl, with whom she had been friends since they met in third grade. Heyl, a retired CIA officer, eagerly accepted the challenge.

"The research was difficult — there were hundreds of war accounts on the Internet that had to be verified," Heyl said. "Once I started putting time into the project, it took on a life of its own."

The end product, published by Leaning Pine Publishing, includes color maps Heyl created that detail battles throughout the Pacific. It draws on Army journals, letters and veteran accounts of war.

Crossen himself was deeply affected by what he had witnessed during those years.

"He was truly tortured by the war and what he saw," McCreery said. "It haunted him, the way it did a lot of people.

Now, almost 70 years after Pearl Harbor, more than 1,000 World War II veterans are dying daily. McCreery hopes the book will help future generations learn about and remember these events.

"We're losing a lot of veterans, and now is our time to really get out there and let generations behind us know what happened," McCreery said. "We have to preserve this part of our history.