Medals and Awards - Distinguished Service Medal for Exceptional Meritorious service in the Philippines, The Bronze Star, Air Medal combination with oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation with four oak leaf clusters, President Unit Citation from the Philippines
Married: Mary Regina "Gene" Sheppard Grover in Houston, Texas, 1928
Married: Lin (Colby) Grover, Thanksgiving Day 1947
Orrin Leigh Grover II, U.S. Army Air Corps
Children: Step-daughters Mary Leigh Canfield, Patricia Reginal Grover, Mary Leigh Grover
Orrin Leigh Grover II was born in Ripley, on Jan. 31, 1904. He was the oldest son of George Forster Grover and Lulu Belle (Chase). Orrin's father was a prominent dairy farmer and at the time of his birth was leasing the farm located on 10434 W. Lake Road in Ripley.
Orrin was named after his grandfather. His grandfather was a Civil War veteran and served two tours of duty with the ninth New York Cavalry Company I, which was the Westfield Academy Cavalry. His grandfather was wounded at Boonesboro, Md., and again at Cold Harbor, Va. His great, great, great grandfather, Nathaniel Grover Sr. also served as a minuteman with his four brothers during the Revolutionary War while residing in Grafton, Worcester, Ma.
Ripley, a rural community, had primary occupations related to farming in the 1900s. It was a hard life and the family chores were shared by all the family members. It was significant to note that the TVA and rural electricity were still a thing of the future. Indoor plumbing had not yet appeared as evidence by an outhouse on every farm.
The tractor, the automobile and the airplane were only found in dreams. The fields were plowed by horse or mule, the primary mode of transportation was horseback, horse and wagon. The wealthier traveled by horse and buggy and by train where West Lake Road in Ripley was still a jerk-rutted horse-drawn wagon road cut through the woods with paving only to come with the advent of the automobile.
Grover was a very intelligent and gifted student and he was especially gifted in math in being able to do complex mathematical problems in his head. His grandfather, Glenn Albert Grover told many how Grover would do complex math questions in his head and somewhat out loud, and while laying in bed as the older children were trying to sleep his father said they would often wake up in the same uttering which only made sense to Grover.
He was also very gifted athletically, with incredible eye-hand coordination. He played on both the baseball and football teams while attending Ripley High School. Many of his teammates and coaches thought he would go on to play professional baseball.
Orrin Leigh Grover II attended the U.S. military academy at West Point and graduated on June 14, 1927, with a degree in civil engineering. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the coast artillery corps.
Unlike most of his fellow graduates from West Point, who opted for more traditional career paths either the infantry or engineering artillery, 2nd Lt. Orrin Grover opted for the Army Air Corps. This was a new field which had many doors leading to different career paths and he felt he could go far in the Army Air Corps. The Army Air Corps was formulated on July 1, 1926, replacing World War I U.S. Army air service only one year before he graduated from West Point. Airplane design was still very much in its infancy and being a military pilot was a very perilous occupation. With this new field of aviation Grover was no stranger to the dangers of flying and recorded a few accidents himself.
On Jan. 9, 1929, at the Selfridge Field in Missouri he had a landing accident. On June 1, 1929, in Dekalb, Ill., he taxied into a fence. On July 18, 1930, at Selfridge Field he encountered a takeoff accident. On July 26, 1932, at Randolph Field in Texas he hit a stake left in the runway.
Grover put in all the flying time he could which gave him lots of experience. In 1936 the Northrop eight-17 A was equipped with 829 horsepower, four 60 caliber machine gun, one flex 30 caliber machine gun and it also carried 100-pound bombs externally mounted in 20 to 30, and 100 bomb canisters internally carried in four dispensers. Its maximum speed was 212 mph and it had a range of 732 miles. It went up to 19,400 feet while logging in all the hours in this aircraft became the Army Air Corps number one trainer that trained pilots to fly it.
While stationed in different duty stations, Grover was asked what other airports he flew out of back home. His answer was the Ripley Airport, which was a grass strip on Route 5 (Lake Road), 1.4 miles west of Route 76 (State Road). The airport was operated by a well-known aviator Lamonte Monte Vance in the 1930s and was operational through Memorial Day 1962. The airstrip is now a great vineyard but the two hangers are still intact.
Grover was an aviator in the Army Air Corps during the time in history when our country was at war which took him all over the world. As you could read from Gen. Grover's military history page one can only imagine the memories this general had while he worked his way up from 2nd Lt.; brigadier general to general. He helped train pilots with the latest aircraft that was available. He participated in the Philippines when the islands were being taken by Japanese hostile forces. His career then took them to all parts of the world from numerous air strips that no longer exists to Saudi Arabia, Australia, the Pentagon and even the war College. The following is a list of all the general duty stations:
Military Duty Stations:
June 14, 1927 - U.S. Military Academy at West Point, promoted to 2nd Lt.
September 1927 - Primary flying school Brooks failed San Antonio, Texas.
October 1928 - Advanced flying school at Kelly Field, Texas
January 22, 1929 -Transferred to Army Air Corps
July 1929 - 17 pursuit squadron at Selfridge Field, Harrison, Mich.
September 1930 - Flying instructor, Randolph Field, Texas
September 1934 - 74th pursuit squadron Aldrich Field
1936 - Barksale Field, Shreveport, La., headquarters squadron third wing
July 1937 - 77 pursuit squadron
August 1939 - Air Army Corps tactical school Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Ala.
December 1939 - Graduated Army Air Corps tactical feel school
1940 - Executive officer 30 to pursuit group Moffett Field, Calif.
February 1940 - 21st pursuit squadron Moffett Field
October 1940 - Nichols Field Philippine Island
Feb. 22, 1942 - Flew Gen. Douglas MacArthur from Philippines to Australia
May 2, 1942 - Appointed director of pursuit of the Fifth Air Force, Australia
March 1, 1942 - Received the rank of colonel.
Dec. 8, 1941 and March 11, 1942 - Received the distinguished service medal
October 1942 - Operations officer at the school of applied tactics Orlando, Fla.
November 1942 - Appointed executive officer of Air Defense Department, Orlando, Fla.
Aug. 4, 1943 - Assistant, Commandant of the Air Defense Department and commanding officer of the fighter command
February 1944 - director of operations for tactical air center
September 1944 - Australia executive officer seventh fighter wing
January 1945 - Chief of Staff eight fighter command South Pacific
June 30, 1945 - awarded Bronze Star for meritorious service
June 30, 1945 - awarded air medal
December 1945 - Maxwell Field, Montgomery, Ala. assistant to Chief of Staff air operations
June 1948 - chief of plans and training branch psychological warfare division Pentagon
March 1949 - Participated senior officers atomic bomb test
Jan. 28, 1952 - Promoted to brigadier general, approved by President Harry S. Truman
March 1, 1954 - command second air division U.S. Air Force Europe commander of the 1414 air base group
June 1955 - Took command of the 34 30th tactical wing at France's EU warned air force base, Cheyenne, Wyo.
June 10, 1956 - Reported the Pentagon Washington, D.C. duty with the joint Middle East planning committee
January 1958 - Retired after 31 years of military court career
This Army Air Corps General's career has shown dedication and loyalty. This farmer's son from Ripley had the dedication and service in which he has given our country that covered over 50 percent of his life. A military life that has seen attacking Japanese zeros, a military life that has seen troops in retreat in one of the bleakest and leanest times in our country's history watching one of the strongest countries in the world pack up and retreat, only taking what they could. They left all supplies in the rear for the enemy and watched men die from starvation months later.
A career that actually flew Gen. Douglas MacArthur from Mindanao in the Philippines to Australia. Flying back and watching the last Bastogne of defense at Corregidor watching on May 5, 1942 when it fell and then hear Gen. Wainwright surrendered, and one week later witness the 3,000 American troops which died. Then for service above and beyond the call received the Distinguished Service Metal for exceptional meritorious service in connection with the military operations against the enemy.
A career that participated in 78 flights over hostile enemy territory and then coming from that field back to the U.S. to participate in psychological warfare and in 1949 when the government took over all of senior officers to observe an atomic bomb test so they could really understand the actual power of the Atomic Bomb. These tests were conducted with the observers in open dugouts later to find that the majority of the officers never made it past her 60th birthday knowing that possibly the early deaths were the result of these nuclear tests. Then going to Saudi Arabia during a racist time in our country when he decided that people should be treated based on their inside not there outside. That was one of the generals strongest features.
After this career was over in 1955, Brig. Gen. Orrin Leigh Grover was honored at a dinner at the Ripley Central High School where 200 people were in attendance. They had a band to furnish a music reception that followed in the school auditorium. While at the local school he excelled in sports and had a great liking for mathematics and mechanics. He met old teachers and classmates. He was best described as a gentleman and found himself somewhat embarrassed by being put in the spotlight. However, it was very evident that he really enjoyed the one conversation with his old friends from high school and the true meaning of coming home.
Retirement for Brig. Gen. Orrin Leigh Grover II brought along a chest full of medals. His proudest medal was the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service in the Philippines from Dec. 8, 1941 to March 11, 1942. His medal was flanked by the Bronze Star, the Air Medal accommodation with Oak Leaf cluster, the Presidential Unit Citation with the four leaf cluster and the Presidential Unit Citation from the Philippines as well as his theater ribbons. Gen. Grover retired to Melbourne, Fla. in January of 1958.
After he retired from his 31-year military career he worked for a short time with Melbourne Architectural Firm utilizing his civil engineering skills.
Another story about a local veteran who reached the rank of brigadier general. The son of a dairy farmer from Ripley who worked his way to the top of the military ladder, a ladder in which one minor mistake could mean no further steps. A man who had enormous skills in mathematics and engineering yet chose to serve his country for 30 years. Over one half of his life was spent serving his country in the military. This makes him our local Hero of the Week.