World War II veteran shares his experience in the Navy

Walde Lindemann recalls his time aboard the USS Little Rock


Walde Lindemann, 95, a longtime Rockville Centre resident, served in the United States Navy as a “plane captain,” or crew chief, from 1945 to 1949, just following the end of World War II.

He was first introduced to the marvel of aviation, while he was growing up in Yaphank, where he started by flying small planes over the potato fields in Suffolk County. He was only 17 when he approached his parents about joining the Navy, with a desire to voluntarily enlist so that he could join his cousin in the service.

His willingness to take the initiative to serve the United States military during one of the most tense moments in modern global history serves as a shinning example of the courage and bravery that we as a country honor and recognize.

Lindemann joined the crew of the USS Little Rock, a Cleveland-class light cruiser, shortly after completing basic training in Bainbridge, Maryland. The ship was stationed in the Philadelphia Navy Yard when he first came aboard in May 1946.

Initially, he was assigned to the deck force because he didn’t have a particular trade at the time. His duties included cleaning the living quarters and making sure the ship was secure.

It took about a year before he was able to transfer to the aviation unit. While serving as the plane captain onboard the vessel, his primary responsibility was to assist planes using the runway and catapult during takeoff and landing.

During his time onboard the USS Little Rock, the ship made several port calls across Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, including stops in Stockholm and Copenhagen.

While he often joke that being in the Navy “was no fun” and involved a lot of uncomfortable living, Lindemann has no regrets about his time in the service, in spite of any hardships that come with being deployed overseas so far from home with more than 1,000 other men.

“I learned a lot from the service,” Lindemann said. “I enjoyed the service and lot and made friends.”

He was honorably discharged in 1949, and returned home to Long Island after four years of service. Back at home, it didn’t take Lindemann long to find a profession. For several years, he worked as a carpenter for the Board of Education in Queens and Manhattan.

“I enjoyed carpentry and always liked [doing it],” he said. “My uncle was a contractor, so I hooked up with him and built houses.”

Lindemann has been married twice. He has two children, three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren who he loves dearly. Through the years, he continued to foster a love for carpentry, which he expressed by doing different jobs for his community, his church and his family.

Walde Lindemann has been an active participant in several veterans organizations, and has been described as an enthusiastic member of the USS Little Rock Association, which continues the legacy and memories of the now decommissioned cruiser and its crewmen. The ship, the only surviving Cleveland cruiser of its kind, can still be seen on display at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park museum.