World War II Navy vet celebrates 100

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 17, 2019

 State Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, R-District 10, right, reads a Senate proclamation in honor of the 100th birthday of Joe Wisniewski, right, at American House Sterling Meadows Dec. 6.

State Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, R-District 10, right, reads a Senate proclamation in honor of the 100th birthday of Joe Wisniewski, right, at American House Sterling Meadows Dec. 6.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Marion “Joe” Wisniewski, 100, a longtime Warren resident who now lives at American House Sterling Meadows, said his mother, a widow, tried to keep him out of the war when he was drafted in 1943 at age 24.

He explained that his younger brother, Wesley, a sergeant in the Army Air Corps, had joined up the year before.

“I was deferred,” he said. “Mom was a widow. Then I was (reclassified) 1-A.”

Wisniewski said his mother went down to the local military authorities to keep him in Warren.

“They said, ‘We need men.’”

His first choice was the Army Air Corps, but they were filled up, he said, so he joined the U.S. Navy.

He served as a first seaman in the Pacific on the USS Chester, a Northampton-class cruiser, as a gunner. The Chester operated in the bombardment of Iwo Jima. He said he suffered hearing loss in one ear from his service.

After the atomic bomb was dropped, Japanese dignitaries came aboard the ship, Wisniewski said, adding that the sailors were not allowed cameras aboard the ship, so they could take no photos of the historic event.

Wisniewski said he was working for Chrysler when he heard on the radio at a beer garden in Warren that Pearl Harbor had been attacked.

He returned to his manufacturing job at Chrysler when the war was over, working at various plants during his long tenure.

On Dec. 6,  state Sen. Michael D. MacDonald, R-District 10, which includes Sterling Heights, presented Wisniewski with birthday cards from the kindergartners at Parkway Christian School in Sterling Heights and a certificate signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Looking around the room at American House, MacDonald said, “It’s a great turnout. People must like you.”

When asked what his secret to longevity is, Wisniewski shrugged.

“No secret,” he said.

Todd Schuver, the executive director at American House Sterling Meadows, said one of the best parts of his job is that they “get to share in … residents’ experiences.”

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