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2nd Lt. Robert P. Gruber
722nd Squadron
Robert P. Gruber

Photo Taken after returning from a POW Camp

Robert P. Gruber

Flight Crew - Langley, Feb 44

Robert P. Gruber

ID Card

Robert P. Gruber

Left to Right - Luke Terry, Gerald Grady, Robert Gruber in a Bulgarian Hospital

Robert P. Gruber

Gruber is on crutches to the left and Terry to the right

Robert P. Gruber

Letter from Mjr. Ross

Robert P. Gruber

Robert P. Gruber

Robert P. Gruber

Letter to Tommy Thomas

Robert P. Gruber

Robert P. Gruber

Crile General Hospital - Ohio 1946

Robert P. Gruber

Bob and "Randy" - All Bob's dogs were Sheppards called Randy

Robert P. Gruber

Another shot of Bob and Randy

Robert P. Gruber

Selling War Bonds

Robert P. Gruber

Hard at Work

Robert P. Gruber

MIA Letter
Bob wrote "I fooled 'em" under the letter in his scrapbook

Robert P. Gruber

War Department Confirmation of MIA

Robert P. Gruber

Retirement Order

Robert P. Gruber

Marriage to Dorothy - 19 March 1949

Robert P. Gruber

Keesler Field - November 1943



MILITARY TIMELINE

November 17, 1941 Enlisted, private Air Corps, born: Philadelphia, Residence: Atlantic NJ, height 67, weight 172 , eyes: blue…. Civil occupation: mechanics and repairmen, airplane
1941 Section II Aircraft - Quoddy, Maine
May 14, 1942 Academy Hangar - La Quardia Field, NY?
May 3, 1943 Air Force Pre-flight school Bombadier-Navigator --- Houston, TX
July 15, 1943 Graduate Bombardier school -- Big Spring, TX
July 30, 1943 San Antonio TX
August 1, 1943 Hondo Air Base is an inactive United States Air Force base, approximately 2 miles west-northwest of Hondo, Texas (west of San Antonio). It was active during World War II and during the early years of the Cold War as a training airfield. It was closed on 31 October 1958, although the civilian airport was used as a pilot screening facility by the Air Force from 1973 to 2000.
February 1, 1944 Langley Air Force Base - Hampton VA
1944 Italy
About Sept. 1943 deployed overseas 9 months, completed 25 missions before shot down
June 24, 1944 Shot down while returning from a mission over Ploesti, 2 crew members (Gruber + 1) landed Danube River, crew of Bulgarian River boat rescued them, taken to Bulgarian hospital. Krzeminiski, turret gunner on B-24 Liberator Two Way Stretch, flying out of Bari, Italy. landed in farmer's field in Romainia and taken to POW camp in Bucharest. Krzeminiski liberated in Sept. 1944 then sent to AF Convalescent Hospitalin Ft. Thomas, KY. - Mission report says 4 planes shot down + 2 missing unknown reason
October 1, 1944 Admitted to Crile General Hosptial - Cleveland, Ohio (I think about 2 1/2 years at Crile undergoing surgeries, treatment for legs
October 14, 1944 letter from War Dept.=son making normal improvement
after Nov 1, 1944 letter from Nellie Knuckes: James POW Rumania 2 months, then furlough and stationed Miami Beach. 3 other members at same POW camp but did know whom
? 1945 Capt Gruber sepakat Lysander articlea: In 1945, Captain Gruber was held by East erman authorities in East Berlin
before end of WWII First Lieutenant - while "grounded" at Crile newspaper article … Air Medal with Two Oak Leaf clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Presidential Citation for Bravery in combat -- European-African-Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon
July 6, 1945 Taxi cab license - Atlantic City NJ
1948-49 participated in the Berlin Air Lifts: see Speaks at Lysander article
April 29, 1949 Tempelhof AF Base, Berlin
July 16, 1957 arrived Travis Air Force Base, Honolulu, Hawaii

Items from Robert Gruber's personal collection

01 02 03 04 05
06 07 08 09 10
11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25



RADIO INTERVIEW

CLEVELAND, OHIO

Station WTAM

January 12, 1945

Open –

            Anchors Aweigh

Announcer:     This evening WTAM's Special Events Department brings you a Public Service Feature.  In the studio we have – 1st Lt. Robert P. Gruber, who parachuted from his B-24 Liberator Bomber into the Blue Danube.  With him is Tech. Sgt. John B Tierney Waist Gunner from the same air group; Ensign Whitfield Wood, United States Naval Reserve, a veteran of LST landings at Guam – and Mr. R. R. Stratton, District Manager, Smaller War Plants Corporation in Cleveland.  Ensign Wood, Am I right in saying that the action you've seen has been entirely in the Pacific?

Ensign Wood:             That's right.  We were the first LST to leave an Atlantic port bound of Pacific duty.  Out of the hundred or so men in the crew, only two had ever been to sea before.  I wasn't an officer at that time.  I was a coxswain and later moved up to Boatswain's mate first class.

Announcer:     Where did you make your first full fledged invasion of enemy territory?

Ensign Wood: That was the assault on Vella Lavella.  As far as we were concerned, it was a hit and run job, for we were only there a single day.  What sticks in my mind was the aerial supremacy of the enemy.  You can't appreciate what it means to have air coverage we enjoy in our landings nowadays unless you were there in those early Pacific invasions when all planes seemed to have Jap makings.

Announcer:     Mr. Stratton, do you have any comment to make at this time?

Mr. Stratton:   Just this – At the time of Vella Lavella our American planes did not have the type of super-chargers to establish aerial dominance over the zeros.  However, Cleveland facilities have been producing super-chargers and parts for the planes, which has made it possible for American landing forces to have air superiority.

Announcer:     To get those parts out to the fighting front it took skilled men working hard at their jobs.

Ensign Wood: And don't think that when we were out there we didn't say thanks to the WORKING man at home.

Announcer:     What was your worst campaign from a standpoint of danger and damage?

Ensign Wood: Our worst campaign from a standpoint of danger and damage were the trips from Tulagi up to Bougainville to support the landings at Princess Augusta Bay.  It was about a ten day round trip through enemy territory with the possibility of air attack at any moment of the day or night.  You've all heard of the "fighting forty", our crack anti-aircraft gun and how the Navy still needs a lot more of them today.  You'd understand why, if you had been out there with us.  We hadn't had any aboard when we left home but when we got out into the Pacific and saw what they could do, we got hold of some and mounted them ourselves.  It was one of those self-installed forties that brought down our first plane – a Jap "Betty", that is a torpedo plane with an eight man crew.  We made nine trips in all to Bougainville and back.  The third one was the worst.  It took place the day before Thanksgiving and it really looked for a while as if we were going to have mighty little to feel thankful about.  We had hit the beach and were unloading when the Japs opened up on us from the jungle.  They caught us completely by surprise.

Announcer:     What were you doing?

Ensign Wood: I was rolling a gasoline tank down the ramp when suddenly it was full of holes.  I rushed aboard ship and just about reached my battle station topside when the Jap gunners found the range.  One of our bays had most of one leg blown away and the other one injured. 

Announcer:     Ensign Wood, what about going into Guam?

Ensign Wood: We were part of an invasion force that was going to hit Guam three days after Saipan.  But the fighting at Saipan was so heavy and so many of our ships were needed as reinforcements, that we just waited out there for three weeks and then went back to our base to await additional strength.  I'd like you to remember that maneuver because the fierceness of the Jap resistance at Saipan is an indication that each step of the way to Tokyo is going to be harder and not easier.

Announcer:     And that means more and more production in Cleveland -   

Mr. Stratton:   Production schedules for Cleveland are SET and they can be met only by the workers staying on their jobs and additional men entering essential industry at once –

Announcer:     What about the actual landing at Guam?

Ensign Wood: I don't think we could have made that Guam landing at all if it weren't for the rockets.  Just before the assault boats went in, the rocket ships cut loose with over 6000 rockets.  It was a beautiful sight.  They just wipe out a whole beach area.  It's never seen rockets before and now I have just one thing to say, about them.  The more rockets you give us for landings, the more of us will come through alive. 

Mr. Stratton:   Ensign Wood, Cleveland is an essential producing center for the rocket program, and Rear Admiral F. G. Crisp, United States Navy, told us Wednesday in Mayor Burk's office that the rocket program will be doubled in three months and doubled again in the following three months – Cleveland can meet this schedule with the full support of those working now, and with additional men coming to at once.

Announcer:     Lt. Gruber – what has your experience been with rockets?

Lt. Gruber:      Any experience has been, up to date, on the receiving end of rockets – from the German fighters, which camped outside the range of our 50 calibre machine guns and riddled our formation with rockets.  I feel very lucky to be able to come home and tell about it.  However, the most effective and efficient protection the Germans had was their barrage typed flak – little white and black puffs, sometimes dense enough to produce what appeared to be a thunderhead of death to crew members.  Of our four engine bombers – Sgt. Tierney, you have flown over approximately the same enemy territory I have.  I'd like to have you tell a little bit about the flak.

Sgt. Tierney:    Well, Lieutenant, the experience we had on our plane was rather a depressing one since two of our crew men were killed over Vienstadt, which was a number one priority target.  Enemy targets are so classified because of their productive capacity.  One of those lost was the pilot and the other the ball gunner.  Our bombardier was also wounded.   We made an emergency landing with the red emergency beacon revolving and the red flares flying  - while along the runway trying to catch us were the ambulances and fire fighting equipment.

Lt. Gruber:      Thank you, sergeant.  You probably know the picture has changed quite a bit since the soldiers on the homefront have been producing rockets, which have been a great help in support of ground troops and train busting, and also a new threat to enemy aircraft.

Announcer:     Was it rockets that destroyed your plane, Lt. Gruber?

Lt. Gruber:      No ---- our plane was shot down by German Messerchmidts 109 E's Machine gun bullets, one of which entered my right leg.  It was taken out and presented to me by a Bulgarian Doctor.

Announcer:     Do you carry it with you?

Lt. Gruber:      Yes, I wear it around my neck as a good luck piece.  I figure anyone who was hit by one this size, and able to get around, is still being smiled upon by Lady Luck.  Here it is.

Announcer:     Kind of big, isn't it?

Lt. Gruber:      Yes, It's about seven times as long as a 45 calibre projectile and solid steel.

Announcer:     How did you happen to land in "the beautiful blue Danube"?

Lt. Gruber:      Our plane had been damaged critically by the four German fighters when the fire aboard was beyond control we decided it was time to leave, without any thought to whether our parachutes would open or not.  It appeared as though we had crossed the Danube, but due to a prevailing wind during the eighteen minute ride down, I drifted to the middle of the mile wide Danube.  Make no mistake about it, that river is not beautiful – and not blue.  While floating down, the serenity of the countryside and beautiful hills which roll to the river seemed worlds away from a violent war.  Instead, the patchwork of fields and waving grain definitely pointed to a peaceful people, except for their aggressive neighbors.

Announcer:     Did they keep you prisoner in Bulgaria?

Lt. Gruber:      Yes, I remained in Bulgaria four months – an unwelcome visitor with friends from all over the United States.  Even though the Bulgarians did not like, or appreciate, us openly they all told us confidentially that as soon as the war was over they were planning to come to the land of freedom – those who can escape from under the aggressor's whip and pistol butt to America would consider it a privilege to be allowed to work every day, and they'd be startled by the amount of clothes, food and luxuries their labors would provide.  It is gratifying to see that the majority o four workers are on the job every day, and it is the sincere hope of myself and every fighting man on all fronts that those who have to realized the life and death importance of continuous work will help to save the lives of our fighting sons, brothers and sweethearts by giving them the weapons they need to protect themselves.  Ensign Wood, Sgt. Tierney and I have all stared death in the face and know how precious life really is.  So, you who are fighting behind the lines, consider your life a gift of America and protect that gift by working day in and day out.  (Pause)  Mr. Stratton, I'm wondering if those people who have been absent during 1944 realize how many shiploads of vital equipment our fighting men have been deprived of?

Mr. Stratton:   Lt. Gruber, I am sorry to say that last year alone in the Cleveland Area, 7 million man days of production were lost due to absenteeism.  This is as situation which must not continue if we expect to defeat our enemies in the near future.  Ninety percent of the War Plants in Greater Cleveland are Smaller War Plants.  Due to the fact that many of these plants produce not only components and end products but also manufacture the dies, jigs and tools from which large manufacturers produce quantities of war material, the need for skilled and semi-skilled manpower is acute.  Much skilled manpower can be reclaimed trough the reduction of absenteeism and turnover.  Executives in all plants will find it profitable to magnify the importance of each individual's duty to the War Effort no matter how small the job may appear to be.  Regular attendance at work is not only a necessity in 1945 - - it is a paramount duty of every worker.

Close –

            Air Corps song



Information courtesy of Kathy Ogle

Link To Crew Information

Link To Scrapbook Pages




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