Presentation of Resolution 3 enacted by the Texas Senate
During the Battle of Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands on October 26, 1942, while enroute to attack the Japanese carriers Zuikaku and Shokaku, Robert W. Gruebel, gunner in a torpedo bomber from the USS Enterprise, CV 6, was wounded when attacked by Zero fighters from the Imperial Japanese Navy carrier Zuiho. He shot down one Zero fighter and assisted in the destruction of a second. Flying in torpedo planes as part of the Enterprise Air Group in 1942, 1943 and 1944 he was awarded a commendation for shooting down Zero fighters at Santa Cruz, earned two Presidential Unit Citations, one for service with the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal and the other for Service in Enterprise, the most decorated ship in the US Navy, from which he flew in 13 of the 20 major sea battles the USS Enterprise fought (every major battle in the Pacific war except the Battle of Coral Sea when she was escorting USS Hornet with Major Doolittle’s B-25 raiders to attack Tokyo in April 1942). For subsequent actions at Guadalcanal, the Solomons, the Marshall and the Gilbert Islands, Truk (shot down and rescued by sub, USS Tang) , New Guinea, Palau, the Marianas Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and others he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 5 gold Stars.
He stayed in the Navy after the war, attaining the rank of Chief Petty Officer, he continued to fly as Flight Engineer in the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) and later the Military Air Transport Service (MATS). While in VR-8 in NATS, he was part of the Berlin Airlift. He flew in Korea and in Vietnam during the 1950’s. He flew as Flight Engineer on Lockheed Constellation aircraft, which serviced U S Embassies around the world. His last tour of duty was at Lockheed Aircraft Company as Assistant Bureau of Naval Weapons Resident Representative and Flight Test Engineer for the Navy. He retired in 1960 after 20 years service.
He dropped out of high School in the eleventh grade to join the Navy but entered college and earned his Bachelor of Science, Master of Science, and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Arkansas in 1968 when he joined the faculty of Stephen F Austin State University. On leave of absence in 1983 and 1984 he was corporate Radiation Safety Officer for Halliburton Oilfield Services. He is Professor of Physics at Stephen F Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas where he resides with his wife, Jo Ellen H. Carlson.