Bob Hammond Waterloo WWII Veteran shares story - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Bob Hammond Waterloo WWII Veteran shares story

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Less than two weeks now until the inaugural Sullivan, Hartogh, Davis Honor Flight out of Waterloo.  The first flight leaves May 10th, with a second flight May 17th.  We'll cover both.

In the weeks leading up to then, KWWL is sharing the stories of Waterloo veterans who served in World War II.

"I delivered Sunday papers out in the country," said WWII Veteran Bob Hammond.

That paper is how Bob Hammond, of Waterloo, learned about the December 7, 1942 attack on Pearl Harbor.  Exactly one month later, his nation would ask the newlywed to join the armed services.  Bob Hammond was drafted.

"No buildings or anything up there," Hammond said.

Hammond served in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

"We were still in our shorts," Hammond said.

The army issued tropical uniforms; Bob and others made do for months before receiving warmer gear.

"When I first went up there I was just with the infantry," Hammond said.

About a month after arriving in Alaska, Bob Hammond applied to be the post quartermaster.

"Colonel said to be a quartermaster you have to have a higher rank than what you got so he made me Staff Sergeant," Hammond said.

Their mission became clear not long after.

"When we got all done we had an airstrip to land any size plane you wanted," Hammond said.

Their biggest enemy in the north Pacific turned out to be the weather.

"Everything opened in instead of out because when it snowed it snowed 45-50 inches at a time," described Hammond about the living conditions.

Bob Hammond and others would spend three to four days at a time inside during blizzards and they had to have enough rations in each building to last a week.

"We lost a lot of boys with frostbite," Hammond said.

Hammond made it through, returning from Alaska and just missing out on being asked to serve in the Battle of the Bulge.

"You owe your country your whole life if you are asked to give it for your service so I was really looking forward to it one way or another," Hammond said.

Bob Hammond served from January of 1942 to October 1945.  After the war, he moved from rural Sheffield to Waterloo and worked as a bakery salesman for 39 years.

Many of you will recognize Hammond from his work as commander of the American Legion in Waterloo.  He's been with the legion for 66 years.

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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