Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 5, 2006, pg. 5
As we observe Veteran’s Day next Saturday, November 11, we are reminded of the diminishing number of World War II veterans still alive in Albion as time marches on. That War interrupted the lives of all of our citizens. Many Albion men enlisted or were drafted into military service, and some never returned.
This week we are remembering one such fallen soldier who was prominent here while growing up in Albion: Russell Elushik (1920-1944). Born and raised in Albion, his parents were immigrants to this country, as were many others who settled on the “West end” of Albion in the early 20th century. Russell’s father Julian was a native of Kovel, located the Volhynia province in northwest Ukraine. His mother Mary was from Ozirony in southern Poland, then part of the old Galacia province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The couple married in Canada in 1915 and came to the U.S. in 1916. As was the case with many immigrants, Julian originally worked as a laborer at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The couple had several children: Anna [DeYoung]; Stella [Cuppatelli]; Helen [Breneman]; Mary [Bohm]; Russell, Paul, and John. The family home was 1110 Carson St and later, 328 Hartwell St.
The Elushiks were charter members of the Russian Baptist Church located at 614 Austin Avenue. Russell sang in the First Russian Gospel Singers Choir. He appears in that classic choir photo on page 50 of my book “Albion in the 20th Century.”
Educated in the Albion Public Schools, Russell graduated with the class of 1940. He was very active in sports and excelled in football, basketball, and track. Russell was a member of Albion’s only state championship basketball team in 1939. He also set a Twin-Valley shot-put record of 12 feet, 2˝ inches. After graduation Russell moved to California to attend Ventura College, where he played football. The War changed his plans for a professional football career, and Russell joined the U.S. Marine Corps in August, 1942. He was a member of the 3rd Marine Division. He was assigned to the South Pacific in early 1943 and was involved in several campaigns. Russell was part of the assault landing on Guam on July 21, 1944. There he was killed following heavy hand-to-hand combat after his foxhole was overrun by enemy soldiers. The gruesome details of his death are graphically chronicled on pages 280-284 in the paperback book “Combat: Pacific Theater World War II,” edited by Don Congdon, in the chapter by Alvin M. Josephy, Jr. entitled “Banzai on Guam.” Not appropriate for publication here, this chapter is must reading to better understand the ultimate sacrifice a number of our Albion soldiers made so that we might continue to live in freedom here in the United States. Copies of this book are available on the www.abebooks.com website.
Russell’s remains were eventually interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii in the Pu’owaina Crater, commonly known as the “punch bowl,” because of its location inside an extinct (we hope) volcano. His burial location is Section M, Grave 182. If you ever visit there, be sure and stop at the grave of Mr. Elushik.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1940 autographed photo of Russell Elushik, and a photo of his military grave marker there in Honolulu. The latter was supplied to us by Honolulian Darrell Ames, a volunteer photographer for the www.findagrave.com website, where Elushik’s burial has been posted on the internet.
In 2005, the local Albion Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3672 paid for a memorial brick in memory of Russell Elushik. It was placed on the Veterans Memorial Stage at Riverside Cemetery where it may be viewed today. Although Russell is interred thousands of miles from his hometown, he will not be forgotten locally as a result. How many of our readers remember Russell Elushik?
1940 autographed photo of Russell Elushik
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic