Freedom Fighters: Dutch Kromer - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

2/8/08- Tyler

Freedom Fighters: Dutch Kromer

Robert "Dutch' Kromer ws only eighteen when he joined the Navy in March of 1941, never dreaming he'd soon be off to war. Kromer's first operation was the Dolittle Raid on Tokyo. Kromer was a gunner's mate aboard the aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Hornet, whch carried the bombers to within flying distance of their destination.

The first big battle for The Hornet was the Battle of Midway. America's victory at Midway was the turning point for the war in the Pacific. In the battle of Santa Cruz at Guadacanal, The Hornet was hit multiple times by torpedoes, suicide planes and bombs. Kromer and over two thousand other sailors had to abandon ship by sliding down ropes and then droppig into the Pacific. They clung to life rafts for hours until they were rescued.

For the remaining three years of World War Two, Kromer served aboard the Rockaway, traveling 113,000 miles and crossing the equator twenty times. The Rockaway was involved in the Normandy Invasion, patrolling the waters, and picking up dead bodies, which Kromer describes as the "most horrible thing he's ever seen."

Joan Hallmark, Reporting joanhallmark@kltv.com

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