The Sun Room at Newton Presbyterian Manor was filled with family, friends and staff as Korean War veteran Wayne Krase was honored for his military service Wednesday afternoon.
Army Sgt. Steven McBryde presented Wayne Krase with a pin and certificate commemorating his years in the Navy.
Wayne Krase joined the Navy in June 1951 — the same year he married his wife Jean — and was discharged in June 1955. He served in the USS Bairoko (CVE-115) among other aircraft carriers as an aviation electrician, touring around the Pacific.
In 1954, he was assigned to a project testing the H-bomb in the Marshall Islands.
"I got to see the atom bomb test and the hydrogen bombs tests, too," Wayne Krase said.
He recalls several large blasts being set off during his five-month tour, one of which sank the Bikini Atoll.
One morning, Krase left the chow hall after breakfast while it was still dark. As a bomb was detonated, it lit up the area for 11 seconds — though he was told the blast was at least 20 miles away.
"And then they went out and swam in the water," Jean Krase remarked wryly.
Wayne Krase went on to serve as a principal in the Valley Center, Cassoday and Cottonwood Falls school districts and as school superintendent at Sedgwick and Halstead.
All three of Wayne and Jean Krase's children were present for the ceremony. As cameras flashed, Jean Krase noted she felt like she was at the Oscars.
"It's quite a deal," Wayne Krase said. "I wasn't expecting this."
Heart and Soul Hospice partnered with the We Honor Veterans program to facilitate the ceremony for Wayne Krase.
"You are special to us. We just want you to know how loved you are and to thank you for your service," said Heart and Soul Hospice Administrator Cheyenne Basingo.
Basingo praised Presbyterian Manor for its resident care.
"We just want to continue that care and honor this really special guy," Basingo said. "His stories are amazing."
For more information about We Honor Veterans, visit https://www.wehonorveterans.org.