Waterloo WWII veteran story of Norbert Trainor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waterloo WWII veteran story of Norbert Trainor

Portrait taken while on leave at home in 1942 Portrait taken while on leave at home in 1942
Guard duty at Great Lakes training in 1941 Guard duty at Great Lakes training in 1941

The inaugural Honor Flights out of Waterloo are scheduled for May 10th and 17th.  As part of our Salutes on Seven, we'd like to introduce you to one of the Waterloo veterans set to go on one of those flights.

"I was just 17 the 5th of January, and the 7th I joined," said Norbert Trainor about the day he joined the armed services.

Trainor served in the United States Navy during World War II.

"I was down about 600 miles from Marshall Islands cause we left Pearl on a Friday night just as it was getting dark," Trainor said, recalling where he was when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  The ship he was on, the U.S.S. Chicago, had left port from Pearl just two days before the attack.

"This probably is not a drill. This must be for real. I mean when you turn the ship around and you head off in another direction," Trainor said.  "We hit 32 knots I think we was doing 34. And we was headed to the Northwest trying to find the Japanese fleet and we went in that direction for several days and then we finally ended up back in Pearl on a Thursday night."

The seaman worked in the powder room on the U.S.S. Chicago, helping keep the front guns battle-ready.  That was, at least, until a battle in the South Pacific in early 1943.

"I never thought too much about it [the work] til the night we took four torpedoes in the engine room and I seen the bulkhead move in on me, then it went out and the lights went out and then you started doing a lot of prayin' because one of the first things you're thinking is stateside here we come," Trainor said.  "We're supposed to protect the carrier. Well, we did - we caught 4 torpedoes and the carrier got away, laughs.  And we was always hoping it wasn't so deep cause we knew there was one million dollars in the bulk cause we had enough payroll on there for a year. We was only out of the States one month."

Trainor would serve on two other ships during the war, the U.S.S. San Francisco and the U.S.S. Gambier Bay, an aircraft carrier.

He became an iron worker in California when the war ended and eventually made his way back to Iowa, to his farm south of Waterloo.

The interview and pictures in this story come courtesy of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in Waterloo.  It's part of the Veterans Project, which aims to preserve the many stories from our men and women who have bravely served in uniform.

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