Leonard Hill: WWII submariner - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Leonard Hill: WWII submariner

Leonard Hill Leonard Hill
Leonard Hill with Torpedo Truck Leonard Hill with Torpedo Truck
U.S.S. Barb Crew with Battle Flag U.S.S. Barb Crew with Battle Flag

Leonard Hill, of Waverly, joined the United States Navy in February of 1943.

"They averaged about one in ten people that started that went all the way through (boot camp) and passed everything and became a qualified submariner," Leonard Hill said.

Hill was one of them, learning everything he would need to know to serve a nation at war.

"The whole submarine depended on everybody doing their job and being capable in emergencies to handle other things," Hill said about his service aboard the U.S.S. Barb in the Pacific Theatre.

"On the submarine because it was so crowded, everybody didn't have a bunk of their own until we had fired some torpedoes. So, like, if you fired three of them, that gives you room for several bunks to set up," Hill said.  "I slept above the torpedoes on a hammock and it was the best place to sleep on the submarine."

There was no shortage of bunks, because the U.S.S. Barb was one of the top U.S. submarines at sinking enemy targets.

"We had a bottle of beer after every ship we sunk. But we sunk so damn many of them we drank up the supply of beer and the skipper was nice enough that he gave us the officer's whisky," Hill said.

After the war, Leonard worked for Schield Bantam-Koehring-Terex in his hometown of Waverly for 39 years.  Many will recognize him from his torpedo truck.  Hill affixed a full-scale torpedo replica to his pickup in the early '90s and drove it in many parades and town festivals up through 2008.

Leonard Hill is one of the many Cedar Valley area veterans scheduled to go on the upcoming inaugural Sullivan, Hartogh, Davis Honor Flight out of Waterloo.  The first flight is May 10th.

Watch for these stories each Thursday on Today in Iowa on KWWL and full coverage of the Honor Flights May 10 and 17.

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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