Four War Veteran

Navy veteran of four wars buried at IVH Cemetery

This month, I was back at the Iowa Veterans Home cemetery in Marshalltown, Iowa to visit my uncle's gravesite and remembered back when I was there a few years ago and came across Mr. Vance Nordaker's grave site.

The following article was written by - By Mike Donahey, Times-Republican

A visit to a relative's grave at the Iowa Veterans Home cemetery motivated Vietnam veteran and former Marine Eugene Stewart to undertake a mission.

Stewart wanted local, state and federal officials, the Iowa Veterans Home, the Times-Republican and veterans groups to recognize the exemplary military service of the late Vance Nordaker, a fellow veteran and a man he never met.

Nordaker, of Des Moines, had served in four wars - World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

Stewart wrote letters and sent e-mails.

Then he made more than 20 telephone calls and researched several hours on the Internet to find a relative in an effort to learn about the deceased veteran.

Eventually, he was successful.

According to Stewart, his interest arose when he noticed Nordaker's marker during a visit to his uncle's grave at the IVH cemetery and his campaign started.

"Notice - the following Navy Veteran buried in Marshalltown, Iowa at the Veterans Home Cemetery," Stewart said. "Mr. Nordaker served in World War I, World War II, Korean War and in the Vietnam War. This is a rarity among veterans. This man should have had a monument put up and his family thanked for what he did for this country. This makes me proud of being a veteran and proud of being in his presence when visiting my uncle's grave site by him.

Thank you Mr. Nordaker for serving our country beyond the call of duty!"

From additional research, Stewart learned Nordaker was a Des Moines policeman and Navy reservist as well. After each war, Nordaker rejoined the Des Moines Police Department according to records from Iowa Workforce Development.

Janice Nordaker Glenn of Des Moines is Nordaker's daughter.

She remembers him well.

"He was very dedicated to his Navy career and to his police career," she said. "He was gone a lot, because of his service. But he was a good father too.

He taught us all the right things. He encouraged us to go to college and we did."

Nordaker served in World War I from 1918 to 1922, she said. In World War II he served from 1939 to 1945 and then in Korea from 1950 to 1953. Finally, he served in Vietnam from 1959 to 1972 while he was in the Navy reserves, and retired May 1, 1972 after 30 years, she said.

"From reading his service records, I know he was highly respected by his fellow servicemen and by his commanders," she said. "He received five commendations from his commanders for the teaching he did as a Chief Petty Officer."

Ted Hall, of Des Moines, has been working with veterans in various capacities since 1972. He was discharged from the Navy in 1971. Hall currently is employed by IWD in the Veterans Unit, assisting veterans find work.

"Mr. Nordaker's career in the Navy was very rare," he said "It is not unusual to have the combined World War II-Korea connection - but it was extremely rare to have someone serve in four wars."

Nordaker's Navy career elicited a comment from a U.S. Navy recruiter.

"It is the first time I've ever heard of someone serving in four wars," said Chief Evans Murphy of the U.S. Navy Recruiting Office in Des Moines.

Murphy has been a recruiter one year and has served in the Navy 11 years.
"It is uncommon to hear of someone with that service," he said.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or
This article was written to express the attention Eugene Stewart made to the Marshalltown City Council, State Representatives and Congressmen's. Mr. Eugene M. Stewart served in Vietnam with "C" Company 1st Bn. 1st Marines from 1968 through 1969. He served in the Marine Corps from 1968-1971. Mr. Stewart's Uncle and WWII Veteran, Vessel L. Stewart another Navy Veteran, is buried next to Mr. Vance Nordaker. This is when I notice that he had served in the 4 wars. Located in Marshalltown Veterans Cemetery, this was the first Veteran that has served in 4 wars that I have felt like I have known after a couple months research.

RIP Uncle Vessel & Vance. I salute you both when I visit your grave site.
November 30, 2017

Information supplied by Gene Stewart to Times-Republican for Mike Donahey to publish this article.

November 11, 2010 - By MIKE DONAHEY, TIMES-REPUBLICAN Eugene Stewart 319-385-3050

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