GRUBER, HUBERT BERNHARD, Staff Sergeant, # 18216279, USAAF
Hubert B. Gruber was born 29 January 1914 in Westphalia, Falls Co., Texas, to Frank Gruber (1877-1930) (Seitenstetten, Germany – emigrated 1913) and Anna “Annie” (Humpl) Gruber (1876-1936) (Biberbach, Germany). Siblings included Alois Gruber (1900-1979), Frank Steve Gruber (1903-1977), Rosa “Rose” (Gruber) Schwertner (1910-1993) (Germany) and Maximillian Johann Harold Gruber (1916-1975) (TX).
He registered for the WW II draft on 16 October 1940 and described himself as 5’10”, 145 lbs, with brown hair and gray eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF and he was trained in the maintenance and operation of the .50 caliber machineguns on the B-29 Superfortress. On 4 November 1944, a B-29, # 42-6370, “Lethal Lady,” assigned to 20th Air Force, the 468th Bomb Group, 793rd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Khargpur, India, one of fifty-three B-29s on a bombing mission to Singapore Naval Base. 1stLt Eigler was the co-pilot. 1stLt Peterson was the radar operator. Sgt. Glibbon was the radio operator. SSgt. Westbrook was left waist gunner. SSgt Gruber was right waist gunner. The B-29 was returning to its base when it crashed into the Bay of Bengal (MACR 9577). The pilot of B-29, # 42-6582, of the 40th Bomb Group, saw the crash. SSgt Albert G. Seekatz, 37494507, had the last radio contact. Searches for the wreckage and any survivors were conducted by four aircraft and one Catalina aircraft, sweep searching the area of the crash. No crewmen were found. Airmen in B-29, 42-6582, 40th Bomb Group, at 2030 Zulu, saw a B-29 explode and crash into the Bay of Bengal at 11º 17’ N - 94º 14’ E, near the Andaman Islands. On this B-29s return trip from the mission, saw red and green flares. SSgt Seekatz, radio operator aboard B-29 42-6397, received an “Urgent” call from 42- 6370 at 2030 Zulu but no following message was sent. Another B-29 crew, returning from the same mission, saw a yellow life raft with either a mast or a man standing slightly north of the noted bearing. The entire Bomber Command (20th AF) and units of the British Navy conducted a thorough search of the area for several hundred miles around the wreckage location. The search lasted several days. Nothing was found. He is remembered on the memorial wall in the Manila American Cemetery & Memorial, Philippines. He was awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart.