Veteran Roland Gardner dies at age 91 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Veteran Roland Gardner dies at age 91


WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Cedar Valley World War II veteran Roland Gardner has died at age 91.

KWWL featured Mr. Gardner just a few days ago when he toured the Five Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in downtown Waterloo. Roland's health would not permit him to make the Waterloo Honor Flight scheduled for this spring, so he toured the Iowa Veterans Museum instead.

In 1941, Roland Gardner, and his five brothers signed up to serve in the military. Four went to the United States Navy, while Roland and one other brother joined the United States Army. Two of his Roland's brothers were killed in combat, while three others were wounded.

In mid-January, the 91-year-old toured the Iowa Veterans Museum with family members.

A U.S. Army Sergeant, Roland shared his story of being moved from the front lines of the war, after the deaths of his brothers. The U.S. Army moved him away from combat and gave him a new assignment as a cook, feeding the top brass of the Allied Forces. Roland would later meet and become friends with General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

"Legend has it that at some point, my grandmother wrote a letter to The President. She wrote, 'I sent six sons to the war. Only one is uninjured; two are dead. Could you please protect him?'" Roland's son, Donald Gardner, said.  "They had come up with the idea that she had already lost two. She had lost two boys in the service and they weren't going to put another in danger, and at that time, he became General Smith's cook."

Roland would later even serve up dishes at a castle in Versailles.

"I don't know how he managed to do it, but he was on the flight home with General Eisenhower, to our knowledge, it was the first flight home after the war," Donald said. "So, he hobnobbed with President Eisenhower and General Smith. He was a good cook but they wanted him to go to Washington when he came back. He wanted to come back to Iowa." 

That's exactly what Roland did. He worked in the John Deere Foundry 30-years. But, now, we have lost another member of that great fraternity known as the Greatest Generation. Roland Gardner died Tuesday at age 91.

Online Reporter:  Ron Steele




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