Monday, July 25, 2011

World War II, the USS Bunker Hill, and Bob Crane

U.S. WWII Service Flag
Bob Crane attended school during the Great Depression years and throughout all of World War II. Not old enough to serve in the military but old enough to understand, he watched many of his older classmates and relatives march off to war, some never to return. During the war, "Sons in Service" flags hung in the windows of homes in Stamford, CT, as they did in homes across the United States. Blue stars within the flag indicated the son was active in the service; a gold star meant the son had died during active duty.

S 2 C Alfred John Crane.
Al Crane enlisted in the
Navy in August 1943 and
saw many major engagements
during World War II.
Stamford Advocate.

Such a service flag hung in the Cranes' home in Stamford during the 1940s. Bob's older brother, Al, had served in the Navy during World War II, and he was stationed in the Pacific Theater on the USS Bunker Hill. On the morning of May 11, 1945, two Kamikaze planes crashed into the ship, severely crippling her. Many who were serving on the Bunker Hill died or were badly wounded that day, and the Cranes did not know for several weeks if Al had survived. When the word finally came that he was alive, according to Bob's best friend from school, "It was like Christmas."

The war had ended by the time Bob graduated from high school in 1946. However, Bob had witnessed the devastating effects of war on the homefront. Al had been badly burned in the Kamikaze attack on the ship, and waiting to hear of his brother's fate had been agonizing. 

Bob Crane / KNX
TV Radio Mirror / Dec. 1963
"It's the Story of Bob Crane"

Throughout his life, Bob Crane showed great respect and admiration for those who served in uniform. He also had a great love for his country. In a Letter to the Editor in the Los Angeles Times, Bob's friend and Variety magazine Editor Harvey Geller mentions how Bob invested thousands of dollars in government bonds at 4% instead of bank CDs at 6% "because this country's been good to me."

Bob provided many hours of service to the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network. Some of his KNX shows were recorded and sent overseas for American servicemen and women as well, including his 8th Anniversary Show. In this clip, the announcer sounds a little bit confused as to where to send the recording...but we're pretty sure they got it straightened out!

Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
May 30, 1964

Bob Crane KNX USAFRN / 1964 by vote4bobcrane