Alvin Rohle Waterloo veteran of WWII - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Alvin Rohle Waterloo veteran of WWII


"My mother had her hands full," Alvin Rohle said about growing up in Waterloo.

Rohle was one of eight children.  He and his twin enlisted the very same day during World War II.  They followed in the footsteps of many other Waterloo natives.

"The Sullivan brothers, they had the five boys.  I can see them all at once, naturally and the girl was way younger," Rohle recalled memories from his childhood.

Rohle remembers being in boot camp when he heard the news about the Sullivan brothers.

"We heard the news that the Sullivans were killed in Guadalcanal.  So, then the government passed a law that any brothers that were in the same group, which my brother was in boot camp with me.  They separated us because being in the same family. He went on to Pearl Harbor and I went on aboard to the battleship Tennessee."

Furious kamikaze attacks happened off Okinawa in 1945.  Alvin Rohle was onboard the American battleship U.S.S. Tennessee during the attacks.  He remembers it like it was yesterday.

"All over, some went down near our ship, then one got through, went all the way, dropped the bomb, landed on my battleship and the bomb went all the way through the war room down. That's where it killed 140 sailors and 33 marines. And how I got out of that alive I don't know," Rohle said.  "I just had a knack for the Marines and to this day I fly the Marine Corps flag 24 hours a day."

After the war, Rohle worked for Illinois Central Railroad before joining Alstadt and Langlas Baking Company as a salesman. 

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 stories of our men and women who have served in uniform. 

Keep watching KWWL each Thursday morning on Today in Iowa.  We're featuring a Waterloo veteran each week leading up to the inaugural "Sullivan, Hartogh, Davis Honor Flight," which is scheduled to take Waterloo area veterans to Washington, D.C. May 10th, with a second flight May 17th.  The flight is named in honor of the Sullivan Brothers and two men who were killed in Vietnam.

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