ARMSTRONG, ROBERT “BOB” CLEVELAND, Staff Sergeant, # 1815425, USAAF
Robert C. Armstrong was born on 17 October 1919 in Burwick, Texas to James “Jack” Homer Armstrong (1884-1940) and Winnie Ada (Summar) Armstrong (1891-1959). Siblings included James Homer Armstrong Jr. (1908-1986), Hunter Daggett Armstrong (1910-1969), Wanliss Thorton Armstrong (1916-1959), and Jack Rudd Armstrong (1925-1965). He married Fay Goodman on 10 January 1948 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
He registered for the WW II draft on 16 October 1940 and described himself as 5’7”, 150 lbs, with brown hair and gray eyes. He enlisted in the USAAF in 1942 in Camp Swift Bastrop, Texas. He was trained in the maintenance and operation of the .50 caliber machineguns on the B-29 Superfortress. He was sent overseas to 20th Air Force, India, then to an advance airfield in China. On 20 August 944, a B-29, # 42-6408, “Reddy Teddy,” assigned to 20th Air Force, 468th Bomb Group, 792nd Bomb Squadron, departed the airfield at Pengshan, China, on a bombing mission of Imperial steel works at Yawata, Japan, and upon dropping their bombs, at 1645 hours at 26,000 feet, was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and was lost. Sgt. Armstrong was the senior gunner. Most of the crew survived. B-29 42-608 was seen to received direct hits from enemy anti-aircraft fire over the target and went into a dive. Parachutes were seen. 2ndLt Roberts suffered traumatic amputation of right leg. Kennard and Roberts were dragged through the streets by civilians and beaten. 1stLt Pickett suffered severe burns and was grossly mistreated by the Japanese. Lt. Rewitz suffered burns. SSgt Bishop heard Japanese interrogators questioning SSgt Kazarian. Subsequently discovered that Lt. Pickett, Lt. Rewitz, Lt. Humphrey, F/O Kennard, SSgt Armstrong and SSgt Kazarian were imprisoned in the POW camp in Japan. He was captured and imprisoned as a POW in the Shinjuku POW Camp, Tokyo, Japan, in the Tokyo Bay area. He was captured by the Japanese and imprisoned imprisoned as a POW in the Kawasaki POW Camp # 2, Tokyo, Japan, in the Tokyo Bay area. He was placed in solitary confinement and starved. He was liberated about 20 August 1945. After medical care and return to duty, he was honorably discharged on 3 June 1946. He died 16 April 2006 in Lockhart, Texas, and is buried in the Lockhart Cemetery. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster. His unit received Presidential Unit Citations.
His brother, Wanliss T. Armstrong, born 6 May 1916, served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WW II. He died at age 42 years on 23 January 1959 and is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery, Corpus Christi, Texas.
His brother, Jack R. Armstrong, born 21 March 1925, enlisted in the USAAF in San Antonio, Texas, on 2 November 1942. He died on 3 March 1965 and is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery.