Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Fathers Day Post - #5 in 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - My dad, Robert Henry Protz

My dad, Robert Henry Protz, was born April 28th, 1919 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  At the age of two, his parents, William C. and Mary Lentz Protz divorced on the grounds of  "desertion".  Mary obtained and maintained custody of Robert (Bob) as well as her older son, William, Jr. (Bill) born in February of 1918.  The little family lived in Detroit, Michigan along with Mary's mother, Elizabeth and her oldest brother, Walter, who worked as a bank clerk.
Mary, having received the sum of $17,000 in the divorce settlement, was able to maintain a home at 6747 Shaftsbury Road. 
 By 1934, Mary had become ill with Tuberculosis and was admitted to the East Lawn Sanitorium where she died on May 11, 1934.  Bill and Bob were 16 and 15 years of age respectively.  The boys were taken to Manitowoc, Wisconsin by their father and step-mother, Helen Kochman where they continued their schooling.  My dad played football and participated in drama activities while at school.  He later attended St. John's Military Academy for one year before being accepted to Lawrence College in Appleton, Wisconsin where he completed one year prior to returning home in 1939 to work in the family business, National Tinsel Mfg. Co, also in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.  War was coming and Bob enlisted on the 6th of August 1941 at Camp Grant in Illinois.
Bob achieved the rank of Private and then Staff Sargeant and was a gunnery instructor in the 2126th Army Air Force Base Unit of the United States Army.  He received an honorable discharge on the 13th of December, 1945 from his unit at Base Randolph Field in Texas.  Bob was not wounded physically during his wartime service but it is most likely that he suffered from PTSD as he experienced nightmares and delusions about his wartime service throughout the remainder of his life.  Bob saw service as part of the American Defense in the American Theater and received a Victory Medal and in the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre winning two bronze stars and a Good Conduct Medal.
He self reported having flown in the first plane to fly over Hiroshima, Japan after the bomb was dropped.  The mission of the flight was to photograph the destruction below.  
Bob met Elynor Edith Krings, most likely prior to his discharge while attending gun sight school at Sperry Gyroscope in NY.  Elynor volunteered at the Stage Door Canteen where servicemen enjoyed food, conversation and camaraderie at no charge.  He wrote to her from Las Vegas where he was stationed for a time.  The two married in January of 1948 and had their first child in March of 1949. Their second child, came along later in 1953.  Bob loved fishing and spending time at his summer cottage on Shelter Island in New York.

Bob worked as Executive Vice President of National Tinsel Mfg. Co. living in Garden City, New York until his retirement around 1981.  Bob and Elly moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1982 where they lived until his death in March of 1996.  He and Elly are both interred at the National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

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