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During a 33-year engineering career, Bob Grout became a specialist in highway equipment repair and management. He advanced from Assistant Highway Engineer in road construction maintenance to Supervising Equipment Engineer, and finally to Chief, Equipment Resources Branch. He retired from Caltrans in 1980. In this oral history for Caltrans, he mentions briefly his Air Force career—one year of fighter pilot training in Santa Ana, California, one year as an instructor in Bakersfield, and then to Pocatello, Idaho for gunnery training. After completion of gunnery training he was assigned to a fighter group—404 Squadron, 506 Group and was transported to England on the Columbia, a French luxury liner. Once arriving in Britain, his first assignment was flights patrolling the British Coastline. After the Beach was taken on “D” day, he took a transport to Omaha Beach, to fly missions with the 404 Squadron. He flew in the mission to liberate Paris, was court marshalled for flying underneath the Eiffel Tower, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for bombing Nazi rail cars under fire. He also received a Purple Heart for injuries he sustained when his plane was shot down during the Battle of the Bulge. After his service with the Air Force, he worked for the Division of Highways as Street Inspector in Marysville. One of his first assignments included first sign crews when the Division of Highways took over signing from the Auto Club in 1947. As an Assistant Maintenance Engineer, he supervised the construction of Maintenance Stations of Pine Grove, Manteca, and Coulterville. Grout had to negotiate a strike/union problems, which was a major factor in eliminating maintenance forces from doing construction; and he was responsible first diesel truck bought.
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