World War II Vet Serviced Vought OS2U Kingfishers in Cuba

Robert Arbuckle of Noblesville, Indiana, enlisted in the US Navy and later served in Cuba.

In 2022 I plan to introduce more World War II veterans to readers with a weekly series of excerpted stories from my books. Go to Amazon for a complete list of my 9 titles.

Please share your thoughts about these men and women who served our country from 1941-1945.

Did you know any of them?

Has someone from your family served in the military?

Thanks to all veterans reading this for your service. And thanks to your families as well!

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“Our mission was to sink U-boats,” said Robert Arbuckle of Noblesville, Indiana.

Note: U-boat was the American military shortened nickname for a German submarine, Unterseeboot.

During World War II, Arbuckle was stationed with the United States Navy at Guantanamo Bay (‘Gitmo’), Cuba. The base contained 200 people who operated flying boat patrol bombers (PBMs) and flying boat amphibious aircraft (PBYs) to monitor the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Arbuckle’s duties included working with diesel engines. Each morning he started the engines on the base’s observation floatplanes, Vought OS2U Kingfishers. When the crew of a Kingfisher saw a German sub surface, they relayed the information to the base. A machine gunner may fire at the U-boat. If the enemy submerged, the Allies dropped depth charges.

Arbuckle, born into a Quaker family in Lebanon, Indiana in 1922, graduated from Fairmount High School in 1941. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Arbuckle, knowing he would soon be drafted, enlisted in October 1942. “I wanted to serve somewhere warm and not sleep in a foxhole,” he said. 

After completing two months of basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center outside of Chicago, Arbuckle trained at a diesel engine school in Richmond, Virginia. The Navy was building hundreds of landing crafts and diesel engines to be used by the Navy.

In January 1943, Arbuckle — now promoted to 2nd Class Petty Officer — was transferred to Cuba. American troops were allowed in the country due to a treaty with then-President Fulgencio Batista.  

The men slept in tents and drinking water had to be trucked in. The chow hall was a thatched building with screens. Despite the tropical locale and its challenges, Arbuckle was comfortable and happy.

The Navy issued sailors, including Arbuckle, with certain items of clothing pictured here.

In May 1943, Arbuckle was sent to Depauw University in Indiana to study in the V-12 program. Men who had scored well on college-level tests were given the opportunity to train as commissioned officers. The war ended before he could graduate.

Arbuckle transferred to the USS South Dakota on the West Coast where he was promoted to ensign / engineering officer.

Arbuckle resumed his education at the University of Texas, graduating with a degree in naval engineering.

Arbuckle married and became a business owner in Noblesville. “Being in the Navy was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “The war was lots of monotony followed by seconds of honor. I was glad to serve.”

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Arbuckle’s story is excerpted from Kayleen Reusser’s book, We Defended Freedom: Adventures of WWII Veterans.

ISBN:  978-1732517257

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Find more World War II veteran stories at my blog by searching on the magnifying glass icon on the right side under ‘World War II.’

And check out my Youtube Channel (‘Kayleen Reusser World War II Veterans’) for short videos of the veterans describing their military service. Please subscribe to these weekly segments and Like/ Share.

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