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Culverhouse, a proud honoree at the Orion Veteran's Memorial

James Culverhouse Sr. was honored for his service in WWII at the Orion Veteran's Memorial. (click for larger version)
August 20, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

Ninety-six years ago a veteran was born whose service is now set in stone in Lake Orion.

U.S. Army 38th Combat Engineer James Culverhouse Sr., a man said to never cuss, was honored Thursday, August 14 at the Orion Veteran's Memorial.

Veterans saluted Culverhouse Sr. as they unveiled his honorary brick at the Veteran's Memorial, placed alongside two other family members' bricks, sons James Culverhouse Jr. and Mike Culverhouse.

The Culverhouses have lived in Lake Orion for 18 years.

"Our family is well represented. Both of my grandfathers served in WWI way back. We are quite a story like that," Mike Culverhouse said. He served in the Michigan Army National Guard.

Culverhouse Sr. was one of the many engineers responsible for the creation of the first Air Force fuel station between Natal and West Africa on Ascension Island.

Ascension Island is almost midway between South America and the African coast, about 1,600 miles from the coast of Africa.

Engineers departed on a secret mission to the island a few months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and according to Culverhouse Sr., and there remained for 25 months.

In the first 90 days. engineers carved the fueling station and landing strip out of volcanic rock, which became known as Wideawake Field.

Men worked about 12 hours per day for 90 days straight to sculpt the runway and meet their deadline.

"You just get up, and do the things you are supposed to," Culverhouse Sr. said. "And hopefully you could do them. I did the best I could."

His oldest son Jim Culverhouse served on a destroyer during the Vietnam War. His middle son Mike, present with his wife Brenda at the Veteran's Memorial, was a Michigan National Army Guard.

"They completed that runway in 90 days so they could get planes in and out there which was just something momentous," Mike Culverhouse said. "We are blessed to have him at 96 years old. There's not many WWII veterans left," he said

Culverhouse Sr.'s tour took him as far north as Cairo, Egypt.

"I value being able to still get up and do my job," he said, looking forward to the years ahead, "As long as I can still see my friends and family."

The Culverhouse section of the memorial is growing with the newest addition. Both of his son's bricks are below his.

Mr. Oz's Stonecarving in Ortonville engraves all of the bricks that donators purchase through the Lake Orion American Legion. Bricks are purchased to honor veterans, families, companies and organizations.

Lake Orion Veteran Darrell Enneking's brick, featuring the first engraved army tank, was placed Wednesday.

For more information about the memorial and services view the Orion Veteran's Memorial website at orionveteransmemorial.com/.


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