Robert J. Cloud was drafted into the service on April 15, 1942, the day before he turned 23. He had tried enlisting earlier, but was rejected for being colorblind.
He joined the 419th Signal Corps and spent the duration of World War II overseas in Australia and the Philippines, then Okinawa, Japan, before returning home a different person with new opportunities. He was among the first to benefit from the GI Bill, attending what is now Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and earning a B.S. in printing administration.
When my sisters and I were growing up, dad would share anecdotes of his war experiences, which he formally anthologized for his youngest granddaughter. While there were some stories of bombs flying overhead while he hunkered down next to a cache of ammunition, what he mostly spoke of were the people: Fellow soldiers from all over the country, generals MacArthur and Kenney, war orphans who were as grateful for kindness as for food (though many of them died of starvation.)
In the preface to his memoirs, he noted: “War does strange things to people, not all of them evil.” It made Bob Cloud realize his place and purpose on earth, it made him realize he wanted to marry and have a family. And it turned him from a self-contained intellectual to a person who re-invested in his community as a volunteer (Camp Fire Girls, national church leadership, union member, church deacon and officer) , as well as an author.
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