Family of the SS. William Irvin’s First Mate return to the ship

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The Krafft family returned to a big part of their history when they stepped aboard the S.S. William Irvin in Duluth.

Jeff Krafft is the son of Leo E. Krafft, the first mate of the ship’s last crew. And says it feels great to be back on the ship that he first visited as a kid. Jeff’s father worked for US steel for about 33 years and Jeff says that the SS. William Irvin was his favorite ship to work on.

Leo worked just below the captain and had major responsibilities, as in if the captain was out… He was next in line. But he never got his captain’s license because he didn’t want to stay away from his family longer than he had to be.

The Krafft family visited the Irvin Friday to gift the museum Leo’s USS great lakes fleet jacket. A yellow rain jacket that Leo would wear on the job. But while visiting the museum the family found something totally unexpected.

Down in the museum the ship holds all sorts of artifacts from the past. Including radio logs, which the family had an emotional moment over.

"We were looking down at the logs and I noticed writing that seemed familiar," says Jordan who is the grandson of Leo E. Krafft. Jordan never got the chance to meet his grandfather due to Leo passing before he was born. Jordan actually found his grandfather’s signature in the radio logs after noticing the resemblance to his own father’s handwriting.

"When I saw it. I honestly started tearing up", says Bettylyn, Jeff’s wife. She was very close to Jeff’s father and seeing a part of him in the ship meant a lot to her.

The Kraffts are now enjoying the rest of their trip in Duluth and are thankful to have such a meaningful visit to the place that honors a big part of their family legacy.