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Meet USS IOWA WWII Veteran Pete Bigler III

One of the most amazing things about being around Battleship IOWA is the stories you hear that you never expect. We opened a message in our Facebook inbox and discovered an absolute gem.
Meet Machinist First Class Peter Alford Bigler III (1922-1975). He served aboard USS Iowa from 1943-1945 and from what his granddaughter told us, we wish we could’ve hung out with this character.
He once got thrown in the brig for shooting a cockroach off the fantail. He’d hoard potatoes from the galley, let them ferment in his rack, then turn them into moonshine. He made enough members of the crew sick with his homemade brew that Capt. McCrea got on 1-MC and yelled, “BIGLER! Stop making that moon juice!” (That reprimand was even noted in Pete’s service record.) We’re told the galley cut off his potato ration for a while.
“Grandpa Pete” had a softer side, too. He’d write letters home to his wife, and to let her and their family know that he was safe, he’d write coded phrases like, “I need 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair of underwear…” They could match up the numbers with coordinates on the map below and figure out where he was.
Battleship IOWA Museum is a place where stories like Pete Bigler’s come to life, where the memories of these veterans who served us all are kept alive, and where people can connect to each other by connecting with glimpses of the lives that have intersected with and on board this great ship.
Please help us keep Battleship IOWA available for future generations by supporting Operation Crush COVID today!
Site developed by Wicked Code, Inc. and funded by The Edward E. & Marie L. Matthews Foundation •  Photos by Rick Stipa Photography
Other photos - US Navy Archives and National Archives

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