Robert E. Strupp

1915 - 1972

Korean WarWWII

Their Story

          Robert Eckhart Strupp was born on November 28, 1915, to Earl and Hazel Strupp.[1] He was born and raised in Rock Island, Illinois. Strupp completed two years of college, but had his sights set on a military career.[2] He joined the Illinois National Guard in 1939, serving with Company C of the 223rd Artillery, which was stationed in Rock Island.[3] He was sent to Officers Candidate School at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, in 1941. Just as he arrived, the U.S. was attacked by the Empire of Japan, and entered World War II on the side of the Allies. Strupp earned his officer’s commission a year later and became the commander of Battery B of the 979th Field Artillery.[4]

Strupp’s service in the Second World War was fraught with peril and filled with combat. Alongside the rest of the 979th, Strupp deployed to Europe four days after the D-Day landings. After landing in France, the battery would spend nearly every day in combat with the Nazi forces, with his battery earning the nickname the “Lucky Battery” for never losing a man: “My battery landed in Normandy on D-Day plus four and was in combat with the enemy, with the exception of one day, until the German surrender and never had one man killed… From the first month on we were considered the lucky battery of the battalion and we received the most difficult assignments.”[5]
          For his heroics as leader of the Lucky Battery, Strupp was awarded a Bronze Star, and five battle stars for each of the five major campaigns of the European Theater in which he saw action.[6]

In an article of the January 06, 1945, The Daily Times, a Davenport, Iowa Newspaper, Captain Strupp’s citation for the Bronze Star Medal was Documented.  The Article reads:

“CAPT. ROBERT E. STRUPP Capt. Robert E. Strupp, battery commander in the field artillery, has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany, according to word received by his Parents, Mr and Mrs Earl G. Strupp, 811 Eleventh’ street, Rock Island. Capt. Strupp was awarded for “achievement from June 25, 1944, to Nov. 14, 1944, in connection with military operations against the enemy.” The citation received by his parents also read, “Capt. Strupp, as battery commander, distinguished himself on repeated occasions by manning observation posts, directing accurate artillery fire, and bringing it to bear on enemy strong points, concentration areas and troop movements while under enemy artillery fire. The personal courage, leadership, and devotion to duty displayed by Capt. Strupp reflect great credit upon himself and the military service.” His parents also received a letter from him which told of four major battles with no casualties that his battery participated in. Capt. Strupp has been overseas a year, being stationed in England prior to the invasion of northern France. He enlisted with the National Guard in March 1941, and received his commission in the field artillery at Ft. Sill in August 1942. His wife is the former Miss Leone Wood, 1402 East Ninth street, Davenport. A brother, Earl L. Strupp, fireman (second class) is now in special training at the Diesel school, Richmond, and his sister, Evelyn Jane Strupp, recently received a promotion to radioman (second class) in the WAVES. She is stationed at Elizabeth City, N. and has been in the service since September 1943.”

After the end of World War II, Strupp returned home for a few years, before serving overseas once again during the Korean War. From the end of the Korean War in 1953, the remainder of Strupp’s service was stateside as an officer in the Illinois National Guard.

Strupp spent the last nineteen years of his service training and commanding the next generation of National Guard soldiers. He was called to state duty 10 times and served on the riot force of each of Illinois’ major riots during that era, including the riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention Vietnam War protests.[7]

He took a great deal of pride in the men under his command, and refuted claims that the young soldiers of the 1970s were of inferior quality to those of the past: “The National Guard of today is the best it’s ever been… if anyone wants to say the young men of this country are not as good as they used to be he can come to me and I’ll answer, all his arguments. I know from what I’ve seen that our young men are as good as they ever were.”[8] When the time came for his mandatory retirement at the age of 53 in 1972, Strupp expressed sorrow at having to leave the guard, but was happy at the prospect of getting to spend more time with his family.

Sadly, Robert E. Strupp never got to spend his newly found free time with his family. While on vacation in Los Angeles, California, just a month after his retirement, Strupp died on 07/09/1972 of an apparent heart attack. He was taken home to Rock Island and was buried at the National Cemetery on the Rock Island Arsenal.[9] He was survived by his wife, daughter, six sons, four grandchildren, and his parents. He leaves behind a legacy of advocacy for the National Guard by striving to endorse its merits to young men, as well as a living legacy of three sons who followed in his footsteps as Illinois National Guardsmen.[10]

Robert E Strupp (1915-1972) – Find a Grave Memorial

[1]Robert E Strupp in the 1930 United States Federal Census,” Ancestry, 2002.

[2]Robert E Strupp in the U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946,” Ancestry, 2005.

[3]National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3.

[4]  “National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3.

[5]National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3.

[6]National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3.

[7]Col. Strupp, Vet Guard Officer, Dies,” The Dispatch, July 10, 1972, p. 5,.

[8]  “National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3.

[9]Strupp Services,Quad-City Times, July 11, 1972, p. 20.

[10]National Guard Officer Ends Final Summer Camp Session,” The Rock Island Argus, June 26, 1972, p. 3; “Honorable Service Nears Close,” The Rock Island Argus, June 28, 1972, p. 4.