Melvin “Jack” Larsen passed away June 17. He was 83.
Mr. Larsen was born Oct. 18, 1923, in Onawa, Iowa. He grew up in Onawa and, in 1941, graduated from the 12th grade there. After graduation, he immediately moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he worked several jobs, including one at the Kansas City Quartermaster Depot. It was there that he met his future wife, Edna Cretzmeyer.
In February 1943, Mr. Larsen began serving in the United States Army. After basic training, he was sent to Tarawa and the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific Theater to relieve the U.S. Marines who had recently captured the islands. Following his tour, Mr. Larsen was sent to Fort Shafter, territory of Hawaii, where he rose through the ranks becoming master sergeant and command sergeant major to the Pacific Ocean Theater commander.
In January 1946, he returned to Kansas City where he married his longtime love, Edna, on Feb. 23, 1946. The couple immediately returned to Hawaii. In March 1947, they moved to Tokyo, Japan, where Jack served in Gen. MacArthur’s Far East Headquarters until October 1948.
Upon leaving Japan, Mr. and Mrs. Larsen decided to make serving in the United States Army a career. Mr. Larsen re-enlisted in Washington D.C. Shortly thereafter, he made warrant officer, after which he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and was assigned around the United States and world. His last assignment was in Okinawa, Japan.
He retired in May 1965 as a major, and accepted employment with the U.S. government as executive assistant to the civil administrator, United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands. Mr. and Mrs. Larsen remained in Okinawa until control of the islands reverted to the Japanese in 1971. They returned to Washington, D.C., where Mr. Larsen was assigned to the Pentagon until his retirement in January 1986.
Upon retirement, the Larsens moved to California, where their two sons and their families were living. Mr. Larsen was known to say that he had never visited Yosemite National Park. This was met with dismay from most Californians. His response was, “We have climbed Mount Fuji, walked on the Great Wall of China, taken the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Nahodka, Siberia to Moscow and visited almost all the capitals of the free world, but no, we haven’t been to Yosemite.”
Mr. Larsen is survived by his wife, Edna; sons Chris and Steve; and grandsons Dane, Drew, Brendan and Duncan Larsen. He was preceded in death by his parents Dane and Jo Larsen; brother, Fred; and sister, Virginia.
Mr. Larsen’s remains will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
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