Richard Gruber – Captain, United States Navy

Captain Richard Gruber, a retired Naval aviator who received the Distinguished Service Medal, America's highest peace-time honor, died Wednesday. Captain Gruber had suffered from Alzheimer's disease. He was 85.

Funeral will be at 3 p.m. February 15, 2002, at Arlington National Cemetery.

“It was a wonderful ride,” said his wife, Marie Gruber. “He was an interesting, exciting man and a gentleman until the end.”

Born in Boston in 1917, Mr. Gruber joined the military before it was mandatory, entering Naval Flight School in Pensacola in 1938 immediately upon graduating from the University of New Hampshire.

While in training, he met and married the former Marie Lyon.

Captain Gruber was dispatched to the Pacific when the United States entered the war. He rose to command of a patrol squadron. Later, he was attached to the Manhattan Project.

It was a sign his star was on the rise. During the next 25 years, he attended a series of elite war colleges, including the Naval General Line School, the Naval Justice School and the Air Force Staff College.

He served as defense attache to the American Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, earning the Distinguished Service Medal and, during the Vietnam War, he directed the Defense Intelligence Agency's Satellite Photo Department.

Captain Gruber retired from the Navy in 1969, joining his wife for “a series of adventures.” The couple operated a motel for a summer, lived in the North Carolina mountains for a time and settled in Virginia Beach for many years, golfing and boating. The Grubers moved to Jacksonville, Florida, six years ago.

In addition to his wife, Captain Gruber is survived by his son, Robert; his daughter, Carol Swain; five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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