Posted on Sep 26, 2017 in Alumni News and News
Retired University Architect and former U.S. Navy Seabee Warren Corman, e’50, on Sunday was honored during a “Salute to Service” ceremony during Sporting Kansas City’s 2-1 victory over the LA Galaxy at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas.
Corman, 91, was among the combat construction engineers thrust in April 1945 into the Battle of Okinawa, the bloodiest battle of the Pacific campaign, and he has since carried the Seabees’ motto with him in every facet of his life’s work: “If it’s difficult, we do it immediately; if it’s impossible, we take several days.”
Only 18 at the time, with no wife or children waiting for him back home, Corman remained in Okinawa for another year after the end of the war. Upon his return, Corman hustled through his coursework with trademark energy, completing five years of coursework in four and graduating in 1950 with a degree in architectural engineering.
Corman’s early career
Shortly after joining the state architect’s office, Corman assisted with the design and construction of Allen Field House. He worked for the state of Kansas until 1957, when he was lured to Delaware when DuPont promised him a big boost in pay and lifetime employment; a depression hit the East Coast six months later, DuPont closed its architecture office, and Corman then spent two years with a small Wilmington firm.
Once he and his family made their way back to Kansas, Corman spent seven years with two Topeka firms before joining the Board of Regents in 1966.
A return to KU
Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway in 1997 convinced Corman to return to his alma mater as University architect and special assistant to the chancellor, posts he held until his December 2010 retirement—an unlikely event that, in fact, did not last long, as Corman joined the School of Engineering as the dean’s construction adviser, a position he held until 2015.
Now fully retired, Corman maintains close ties with the University as an executive committee member serving the Association’s KU Veterans Alumni Network.
Salute to service
Veterans Network secretary Randy Masten, g’03, a retired Army officer and assistant director of KU’s Office of Graduate Military Programs, nominated Corman for the Sporting KC honor, and was on hand to cheer both his beloved Sporting KC as well as a distinguished Jayhawk who has done so much in service to his alma mater, his home state and his country.
“Randy goes to all the games, and he told me afterward that when I was introduced as a veteran of the last battle of World War II, a guy sitting next to him said, ‘That guy must be lying about his age. He can’t be World War II. He must be Vietnam.’”
Corman chuckles as he shares the anecdote—which he usually does when telling his stories—but he also fights back a sudden well of emotion. For more than 40 years, Corman remained silent about his Okinawa experiences even with his family; now, though still blessed with a nimble step and youthful spirit, Corman knows that he is among the last survivors of his great and brave generation, and so he accepts salutes such as the one he received Sunday in memory of all of his combat comrades.
“They were really so nice,” Corman says of staff and fans at the Sporting KC match, as he regains his voice after a brief moment of reflection. “Everything about the day was nice. Really a wonderful honor.”
Warren Corman was the subject of a cover feature in Kansas Alumni magazine, issue no. 5, 2011, as he closed the books on his long career. You can read the full article online. Photos by Steve Puppe.