Archived Story

Local war hero goes to Washington

Published 9:46am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

By Jeani Trosvig

For The Journal

World War II Veteran Aaron Trout does not like to “toot his own horn,” which is characteristic of a hero — they are humble. And that’s what Aaron is — a war hero.

A war hero who was honored this May with a trip to Washington, D.C., along with 123 other North Dakota veterans of World War II.

The ‘Rough Rider Honor Flight’ left Bismarck, N.D., on Friday morning, May 7, arriving in Washington to fanfare, hugs, kisses and many thanks.

They toured the Vietnam, Korean and Lincoln Memorials on Friday, were honored at a banquet that evening and the next day toured the World War II Veterans Memorial, as well as the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, which was Aaron’s favorite.

Trout was overwhelmed by the “rolling hills of white grave markers.”

He was also overwhelmed by the numbers of veterans buried there — 431,000 graves — and was told by his tour guide that “they average 20 burials per day.” Aaron also remembered hearing that we are losing 1,000 World War II veterans per day nation-wide.

Aaron Trout grew up in North Dakota. After two years of college there, he decided to hitchhike to California to “seek my fortune and I still wonder where it is.”

He found work at an aircraft factory in Los Angeles and remembers after Pearl Harbor the whole city of Los Angeles “blacked out.” “Every window in the factory was covered up and even the street lamps were painted black on top, you couldn’t drive with your headlights on after dark!” After working for another year, in December of ‘42, he headed “downtown Los Angeles and enlisted in the old Federal Building.” He started active duty in January of 1943 and spent time traveling with the Navy, eventually becoming a Radar man on a LCS (Land Craft Support).

This ship, Aaron referred to it as a “self-propelled bath tub,” held 66 enlisted men and 6 commissioned officers.

“The bunks were four high, made of canvas with eyelets around the edge, if you didn’t keep your lashes tight, you would hear about it from the guy below you as your bunk started to sag!”

The ship’s main job was to protect other landing crafts that were unloading equipment and military. Aaron’s ship was only 153 feet long and it had plenty of “fire power” on board, he and his comrades were also there to assist with putting out fires if any of the ships were hit — a very big responsibility.

Aaron remembers where he was when the war ended, “stockpiling equipment at Okinawa and preparing to invade Tokyo.” They had so much equipment stockpiled, one guy joked that “if they got another shipment of supplies, the island would sink!”

Aaron continued with his duty until he had enough points to be discharged and spent a long ride home, five weeks on a ship with a damaged propelling system, China to San Francisco. When asked if he had anyone at home waiting for him, he smiled. He met his wife on the steps of the high school in North Dakota, but he was in the process of picking up another girl for a date, his date asked if he would “mind dropping Maggie off?”

Of course he didn’t mind, didn’t really give it another thought until a few years later when he was in Portland “on leave” and he was reunited with this girl named Maggie, who had also made the trek from North Dakota to seek work. Margaret was staying with his cousin (he never did call her Maggie) and they eventually met and decided to go out dancing, which they did just about every night until he was shipped back out.

They continued to “correspond and got to know each other through letters.”

Aaron arrived back in San Francisco on March 5 of 1946, he was honorably discharged on March 11, after nearly three years and two months of service, and was happily married to Margaret on March 31 of that same year.

They celebrated more than 60 years of marriage together and were blessed with five children.

Those children of his were instrumental in getting him to Washington, D.C., to be honored for his service. Aaron decided he couldn’t make the trip, just didn’t think he was up to it, asked his kids to mail in the rejection letter and he thought all was behind him.

Instead, those kids made sure he was scheduled for the trip and surprised him with the news on his birthday just a few weeks before he was to “ship out” one last time.

It was the trip of a life-time, a well-deserved trip for a deserving man. Thank you Aaron Trout, for your service, we salute you.

Aaron currently resides at Mill Street Residence, moving to Fergus Falls from Bismarck this winter to be closer to his daughters.

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