Waterloo World War II U.S. Navy codebreaker Delores Schaack Burdette honored on her 100th birthday

Posted by Pat Kinney on Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Family of a Waterloo World War II veteran who turned 100 years old Monday gathered at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum for a special donation in her honor by staff of her high school alma mater.

Waterloo East High School Athletic Director Tim Moses and Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Glen P. Keith, senior Army instructor of Waterloo East High's Junior ROTC program, made a donation to the museum in honor of Delores Schaack Burdett.

Burdett, a 1938 graduate of East, was a top-secret U.S. Navy codebreaker during the war, decoding messages on Japanese troop and ship movements in the Pacific theater. Her unit received a Navy commendation but had to maintain silence about their service for 50 years after the war ended. 

Burdett, who now lives in assisted living in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., grew up near East and worked in the office at The Rath Packing Co. in Waterloo prior to the war. A Rath office co-worker, Bob Manske, was killed on the USS Arizona in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

A Dec. 30 article on Burdett which appeared in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier has since appeared on the websites of more than 1,600 news organizations around the country.

East High athletic director Moses, who is also a member of the school's Hall of Fame committee, said individuals at the school wanted to do something for Burdett on her 100th birthday.

Told of the gesture, Burdett said from Florida she was thrilled at the recognition and was enjoying a great birthday, despite being on lockdown due to the coronavirus. She received a big party where she lives, received numerous greeting cards from members of her church and is to be interviewed Wednesday for an upcoming article in World War II Magazine.

"I think I'll stick around a few more years and see if I get the same kind of celebration every year!" she told the museum. "I'm gonna stick around and kick a few butts. And you can quote anything I say; I'm 100 years old, who's gonna care?"

Burdett's extended local family are pictured here at the USS Iowa Exhibit at the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum. Flanking Keith in uniform, and Moses in East High apparel at center, are, from left to right, Burdett's cousins Linda Pilipchuck of Waterloo and Desiree Swanger, her mother, Theresa Schock and grandmother Sue Lequatte, all of Cedar Falls.

The Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier's artcle on Delores Schaack Burdett can be found here.

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