Robert “Bob” Grainger, Class of 1942

July 02, 2004
Santa Paula High School
By B. J. Harding, President, SPUHS Alumni Association Biography #238 (Have you submitted yours?)One of the seven children of Bert and Mary Oakes Grainger, Robert “Bob” was the baby. The other children were William (’31), Edwin (’32), Mildred (’33), Perry (’36), Eva (’38), and Donald (’41).All the children were born in Santa Paula, and were living in their home on Harvard Boulevard the momentous day of the St. Francis Dam disaster. Their house was moved from 4th Street to Barkla Street by the rush of water. Fortunately, all escaped to grow up, marry and raise families.SPUHS was a time for Bob to have a good time, and he did. He was involved in the track and gymnastics teams, placing first in a county track event (pole vaulting) and acquiring a great respect for Randall Bryden. Other teachers he recalls as being important in his life were Amy Chapman and Fred McGinnis. His buddies in school were Herbert Edde (’42), Harvey Boles (’42), Frank Henry (’42), and Howard Vogt (’43), all deceased now except Herbert. His gal buddy in school was Peggy Prieur (’44), who was and still is the love of his life; they’re celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary this August.With so many children in the family, Bob always had to work. Since his father had a dairy, Bob helped milk cows and deliver milk until he went to work for Smith’s grocery during high school days.Following graduation Bob entered Ventura Junior College and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was called for active duty and was sent to Luke Field, Arizona for training. His brother-in-law Stan Griffiths (’35) was there, along with his sister Eva, and they presented him with his wings and 2nd lieutenant bar.Bob was then sent to Ephrata, Washington for fighter training and Peggy joined him there, where they were married. (Bob claims she was the best thing that ever happened to him.) Bob was trained in P-39s and P-63s and, finally, P-38s. He was sent to the Pacific Theater of the war to ferry planes between the islands. When the war ended, he was on the island of Okinawa. His unit was then sent to Japan with the occupation forces. Bob returned to Santa Paula in April of 1946 and joined the reserves.
Bob worked for Watkins Hardware on Main Street for two years. He then had a four-year carpenter apprenticeship for B. H. Maland, Contractors, working with Les (’39) and Eldon (’41).In April 1953, Bob was recalled to the Air Force and sent to San Marcos, Texas to teach Army officers to fly Piper Cubs and Cessnas. He was then transferred to Hickham Field, Hawaii as assistant base operations officer. After three years of living in “paradise” Bob was transferred to Plattsburgh, New York, knee-deep in snow, to fly tankers used for air-to-air refueling. His next stop was Weisbaden, Germany, where he flew in and out of Berlin, over communist East Germany. After three years there, he flew electronic reconnaissance over Vietnam. While in ‘Nam he was stationed at the same base as his son, Butch, both holding the rank of major – Bob as a pilot and Butch an artillery officer.In December of 1969 Bob retired with the rank of major, having flown 145 missions. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters.Bob again returned to Santa Paula, where he worked for the United States Postal Service for 14 years as a letter carrier. One often saw Bob around town with his infectious smile, delivering mail to old friends and neighbors.Now that he is finally retired for good, Bob spends his time with Peggy and their children, Butch, Antoinette “Tony” and Barbara “Bobbie” and their seven grandchildren and four great grandchildren, and working in their church, the Methodist Church. The Graingers were recently appointed the chairman and chairwoman of this fall’s church bazaar. Bob still loves to fly, after all these years, and keeps a plane at our famous Santa Paula Airport. In addition to their very active church work, Bob and Peggy are involved in their alumni association and local flying clubs.

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