ROBERT E. FAIR, CDR, USN
Robert Fair '33
Date of birth: May 5, 1911
Date of death: January 10, 1945
From the 1933 Lucky Bag:
From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup," published by the class of 1933:
Bob was assigned to the SARATOGA upon graduation and spent the first two years of his commissioned service in that carrier. Perhaps the highlight of this duty occurred during a visit to Norfolk when Bob met Kathryn Blood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on a blind date. Bob, from New Philadelphia, Ohio, became intensely interested in the girl from "Old" Philadelphia, but the two year law and a set of orders to the China Station effectively prevented the immediate development of this interest. Bob had a most interesting tour on the China Station where he served aboard the PILLSBURY, TUTUILA, LUZON and PANAY. He returned to the States in January 1938 for a tour of duty aboard the TENNESSEE which was followed by an assignment in the HENDERSON. Concurrent with his detachment from the HENDERSON Bob persuaded Kaye to fly to San Francisco where they were married in March 1940.
After a year's tour of duty in the LEXINGTON Bob was assigned to his first shore duty at the Naval Academy where he taught ordnance and gunnery until October 1943. While at the Naval Academy Bob had an opportunity to edit his extensive film collection on China, join the Annapolis chess club, play golf and develop some real ability in woodcarving. Kaye played with the violin section of the St. John's Symphony Orchestra during the Annapolis duty.
The pleasant interlude ashore was followed by Bob's second tour in the SARATOGA, this time in the combat area, as Gunnery Officer. In early 1944 Bob was ordered as Navigator of the COLORADO where he participated in combat operations of the Seventh Fleet.
Early in January 1945 the COLORADO was assigned a job of softening defenses on Luzon preparatory to the landing of General MacArthur's forces. On January 9, a heavy caliber shell from one of the Jap shore batteries hit the COLORADO's superstructure causing severe casualties on the navigation bridge; including Bob who was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.
Bob is survived by Kaye, who is now Mrs. Philip Straubinger, and his son, Christopher, who was born in September 1943. In addition to Christopher, the Straubingers have three sons, Robert Michael and Stephen; the family resides at 654 Del Mar Avenue, Chula Vista, California. Kaye wrote most interestingly of her life with Bob and helped us to gain greater understanding of his sterling qualities. She recalled, for example, a conversation with Bob shortly before he left for the Pacific War, during which he told her that he was glad to get back to sea, not to earn medals, but to perform the job for which his country had trained him. Here again, a classmate has added new meaning to the phrase "His conduct was at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service."
Robert was lost with 17 others on January 9, 1945 while aboard USS Colorado (BB 45), operating in Lingayen Gulf, when the ship was struck by "accidental gunfire" from an unspecified source. Fifty-one other men were wounded in the incident.