Lt. Colonel USAF (Ret) Clinton A. Gruber ’47 passed away on March 12, 2011 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center at the age of 91.
Clint was raised in Silver Lake, a tiny town in the Oregon high desert. Entering Pacific on a scholarship in 1938, he concurrently enrolled in the university’s Civilian Pilot Training course at Hillsboro Airport. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor plunged America into the Second World War, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet, graduating as a Second Lieutenant in the class of 43-C.
Assigned to a B-24 “Liberator” heavy bomber crew as a copilot, he went to England to join the 93rd Bomb Group, 8th Air Force, based at Norwich. Temporarily posted to North Africa, he and his crew flew combat missions out of desert bases near Benghazi and Tunis, striking enemy targets in Italy and Austria.
Back in England he flew more missions, to strategic target in Germany. On November 1, 1943, on approach to a target near Solingen, Nazi fighters attacked, knocking out two of the four engines on his plane and killing the tail gunner. Clint and surviving crew members bailed out at 18,000 feet. He landed in a snowy field, injuring his leg. Nevertheless he evaded capture for two days. He was interrogated and sent to Stalag I prison Camp on the Baltic Sea, where he remained a prisoner of war until liberation by Russian troops shortly before the German surrender in May, 1945.
Clint resumed his studies at Pacific, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1947, then landed a job as an announcer for what would become Oregon Public Broadcasting. He later worked for KOIN radio for many years, serving as its program director, then became Executive Director of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and served as Deputy Director of the Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs.
He continued service in the Air Force Reserve and the Oregon National Guard until his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972. In his memoirs he recalled: “I am forever grateful to have been of an age to actively experience the war years, and to have been allowed to serve my country in World War II as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Force. I am proud of that service, and thankful that I was spared to see the fruits of our victory.”
Lt. Colonel Gruber is survived by his wife Doris, of Beaverton and son Dwight, of Portland. His story, “Missing in Action Over Germany” appears in the on-line versionof Pacific magazine at: www.pacificu.edu/magazine.
-- Sig Unander '87