The Museum’s Founders Plaza has been a travel destination for Jessica Fernandez ever since she was notified that her grandfather’s commemorative brick had been installed there. In July, 2017, she and her husband traveled from Pearland, Texas, to see the brick for the first time.
Fireman First Class Gunther A. Kroll died in 2006 in Pasadena, Texas, at age 80. His wife Billie still lives there. They had two sons and two daughters, five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren. He is buried in Houston National Cemetery.
Kroll was a teenage South Dakota farm boy at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, and went on to serve in the US Navy during World War II. His Road to Victory Brick notes that he served aboard the USS Hart at Okinawa. It also says, “Love you grandpa.”
Like many WWII veterans, Kroll didn’t talk much about his service. “At the time, I was too young to really soak it in,” Fernandez said. “He would mention it briefly.”
Fernandez and her husband first visited The National WWII Museum in 2014, when the idea to honor her grandpa with a brick was first born. On this year’s visit, Fernandez got to tour the Road to Tokyo exhibit, which helped her understand more about the theater of war her grandfather knew.
Founders Plaza holds about 11,000 of the nearly 50,000 total bricks on the Museum campus, and each tells a story dear to someone like Jessica Fernandez.
“He was like a dad to me,” Fernandez said. “The WWII Museum in New Orleans is such a great museum, so it’s one more place where his life and memory can live on.”