Bobby Calvin Cloninger
On this Veterans Day I want to write briefly about my Uncle Bob, who served aboard the U.S.S. Maryland in World War II in the Pacific theater. I interviewed his widow, my Aunt Iris, about him at the family reunion a couple of years ago. I remember visiting them a couple of times as a child, but I never knew either of them well. Mom has related stories about his suffering from what we now call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, imagining Japanese attacking in the middle of the night at their parents' home in Hickory, North Carolina, and stuffing Mom under a bed to hide her from the enemy. She has also told me that he related stories to her about seeing blood washing back and forth on the deck of the Maryland. Aunt Iris said he was the only one of eighteen gunners on the Maryland that survived one of its battles.
From my notes from my talk with Aunt Iris I know that Uncle Bob was 16 when he left Hickory to join the Navy, and he entered the war shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. Maryland was at Pearl Harbor at the time, but she was only slightly damaged by the bombs that hit her. Uncle Bob was assigned to her at some time after she was repaired and sent back into action.
Aunt Iris said that Uncle Bob sang and played guitar, and when I asked her what kind of music he liked, she said he was a big fan of Elvis Presley. He liked tacos, steak and beer, and drove an eighteen-wheeler after the war. She described him as having light brown hair. He was Mom's half brother, born to their mother by her first marriage.