World War II veteran to lead Spring Lake Memorial Day parade

Marie Havenga • Jul 21, 2015 at 10:57 AM

The birthday boy will ride in a golf cart during the procession — which heads east on Exchange, south on Lake Avenue, east on River Street, then north on Fruitport Road. The parade ends at the Spring Lake Township Cemetery with a ceremony honoring veterans.

The Crockery Township resident was wounded in World War II when shrapnel sliced his skull.

“We were driving the Germans on the outside of town,” Czinder recalled of the battle outside of Bastogne, Belgium, where he was riding in a tank. “I got hit in the head with shrapnel. It ripped my helmet right apart.”

Czinder’s fellow soldiers dumped him out of the tank.

“If somebody hits you, they don’t let you die in the tank,” said Czinder, who crawled into a nearby fox hole. “I laid in that until the medics came and picked me up. They flew me back to England and I was in the hospital for three months. To this day, I still have problems sleeping because I have ringing in my head all the time.”

When Czinder returned to the United States, he served as a foreman at Anderson Bolling for 21 years.

Now retired, he coaxes buds into being. His 2.5-acre homestead is ablaze in color — tulips, flowering crab and mums.

“Those came off Mom’s grave,” said Czinder, pointing to cascading mum plants. 

His wife, Gladys, died in November. They were married 64 years.

“It’s lonely being here by yourself, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “The kids come around and check on me. I still drive and everything, and I do all my yard work.”

Czinder said he wishes Gladys were here to watch the parade and share in the spring hues of the garden.

“She’d be proud,” said the 1941 draftee, who had his Army uniform dry-cleaned for the parade. “One of my shirts fits me, except I can’t button the neck up. My Eisenhower jacket from the service is too small. I have a hat that I had and a tie for the shirt, so that’s what I’m going to wear. And I’m practicing waving with both hands.”

Czinder’s son, Martin, said he’s proud of his father’s dedication to family, freedom and flowers.

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