US Navy Rear Admiral William Leroy Messmer – Park 77

Location:  Bremen, Bluehill and Minneapolis  

Super clean park just south of East English Prep Academy, formerly George Ham Cannon playground.
Super clean park just south of East English Prep Academy, formerly George Ham Cannon playground.


As a youth, Bill Messmer [1903-1973] found his love of music while attending Detroit’s Eastern High School.  Musically gifted, he directed and organized a 16 piece orchestra as a teen.  His mother recollected how Bill would purchase his sheet music at the Jerome H. Remick music ‘house’ in Detroit. One day, she ran the errand of picking up his sheet music and had an encounter with the famous composer Richard Whiting, [nice story at that link] who managed the desk as a fledgling composer.   Continue reading “US Navy Rear Admiral William Leroy Messmer – Park 77”

2nd Lt. Thomas W. Wigle Memorial Playfield – Park 25

overdue UPDATE:

When the shuttered recreation center was demolished last year, it was a good clue about the changes that were going to come to the Wigle field.  This large playfield with a DIY skate park are up for sale.  When the correct buyer appears [and they might have already] this playfield will disappear.  Wigle will be sorely missed not only by the kickball leagues. skateboarders but also by the Experienca School across the street who uses the field for school events.  Here’s the best way to describe it courtesy of CurbedDetroit.  ag

Photo courtesy of Curbed Detroit. thanks.

A Gifted Violinist

Wigle Playground is a popular spot for kickball leagues in Detroit.  It sides the service drive to M-10 Lodge Freeway and Selden Street. The amenities at this field are few – a baseball diamond, beat up basketball courts, vandalized rec center and the field – but in actuality a patch of earth, a ball, beer and some friends are all one needs.

Thomas Wigle was born to parents Arch and Hazel in Indianapolis, Indiana on May 18, 1909.  The family relocated to a residence on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit.  Arch supported the family working as a realtor.  Prior to entering the military, Thomas was a violinist, violin teacher and a mechanic in an airplane factory.

Beyond the Call of Duty  

Photo courtesy of Military Hall of Valor
Photo courtesy of Military Hall of Valor – Thanks Doug Sterner.

Serving in World War II was no easy task, yet 2nd Lt. Thomas W. Wigle gave his all and volunteered to command when leadership was desperately needed.   On September 16, 1944 his platoon was attempting to invade a heavily fortified position on an Italian hillside.  There were three terraced stone walls to scale to reach the enemy.   Wigle led his men up the rocky slope through intense fire and reached the first stone wall. He was boosted to the top of the wall and perched upon it in full view of the enemy.  A firefight ensued and meanwhile, his men helped each other up and over.  Wigle and his platoon successfully negotiated the second wall using the same method.

Three houses used as an enemy stronghold came into view after Wigle scaled the third wall.  Giving an order for cover, he made a dash through a shower of gunfire to reach the nearest house. Firing his carbine as he entered, he drove the enemy out of the back door and onto the second house. They eventually fled and took refuge in the cellar of the third house.

When the platoon caught up to Wigle, they found him dead on the cellar stairs.  His heroics resulted in the capture of 36 German soldiers and the seizure of this stronghold in Monte Frassino, Italy.  He was honored with the Congressional Medal of Honor for courage and dedication.