After graduating from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1940, Robert Balfour decided to join the Navy. When faced with the vision exam, Balfour copied and memorized the eye chart so that he could pass the exam. He became an ensign.
He spent his first four months of duty on an Landing Ship, Tank. Balfour traveled throughout Guantanamo Bay, the Canary Islands, New Zealand and Australia. In New Caledonia, Balfour worked under Adm. Bull Halsey as a communications officer.
Balfour served during the Philippines campaign with the Third Fleet from 1944 to 1945. He survived sailing through Typhoon Cobra and made it back safely to Hawaii. There, Halsey asked Balfour to stay on for the next operation and Balfour agreed. He set out on USS Louisville with Halsey. They made their way to Okinawa. One afternoon, Balfour transferred over to the USS Missouri. The same night, a kamikaze attack hit USS Louisville.
During the rest of the war, Balfour served aboard USS Missouri. After Japan surrendered, USS Missouri traveled to Tokyo where Balfour had the opportunity to explore the city. He said he was disappointed he did not cover the official surrender of Japan Sept. 2, 1945.
After the war, Balfour went back to Flint, Michigan to write columns for a variety of newspapers. Along with that, he wrote many magazine articles and a book. Eventually, he ended up working for President Dwight D. Eisenhower on his 1952 presidential campaign.
Balfour passed away Nov. 15, 2005.
We honor his service.
More of his story can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.02531/#vhp:official
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This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.