Pearl Harbor survivor to lead Memorial parade

Published 2:36 am Thursday, April 24, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A war veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor will be among the people up front in this year's Memorial Day Parade in Niles.
Bill Wenger, who spent 15 years in the Navy and served in both World War II and the Korean War, however, said he doesn't think of himself as anything extraordinary, even though he survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Wenger said he is no more of a hero than all the other people who have fought and died in wars, before or after.
And Wenger won't be the only Pearl Harbor veteran up front at the May 26 Parade. He said John B. DeFields, a Pearl Harbor veteran from Coloma, will join him up front in the parade.
But Wenger is more than just a war veteran.
When discharged with the Navy, he went to work for Bendix Missile Services in Mishawaka, Ind., where he worked as an administrative engineer from 1953 to 1959.
In 1959, he went on the road as a salesman selling electrical components.
That didn't prevent him from starting his own company, William E. Wenger &Associates in 1984, selling electrical components to, amongst others, the military.
He moved to Niles in 1989 after having lived in South Bend for many years.
These days, Wenger, who retired in 1989, is working on his autobiography about growing up in rural southwestern Michigan, his 15-year stint in the army, as well as his life as a salesman.
When completed, however, the book will not be available to the public, Wenger said.
The American Legion is seeking participants for the May 26 Memorial Day Parade.
This year's Memorial Day Parade will kick off at 10:00 am with line-up at 9:00 a.m. at the Niles YMCA. The parade route ends at Silverbrook Cemetery and is followed by memorial services featuring Bill Wenger Sr. and the Rev. Fred Smith.
All parade participants are invited afterward to enjoy soft drinks and 'sloppy joes' served and provided by American Legion Post 26.
Applications to join the parade can be picked up at the Post on Miller Drive from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone having questions about the parade can call 684-1950 for more information. Cemetery Memorial services will be held at Mission Hills Sunday, May 25, at 11 a.m.