Owner Biography

Robert H Cunliffe

Robert Henry Cunliffe (1924-2008) grew up in Brookline and graduated from South Hills High School, where he competed on the school's track team. But the sport in which he excelled while still in high school was speed skating.

"He won the North American speed skating championship," said his son, Frank H. of Philadelphia.

During World War II, Mr. Cunliffe served as a pilot in the Army Air Forces, stationed in England with the 388th Bombardment Group. His B-17 plane was named "War Weary." He flew 11 combat missions and later flew for Air Transport Command.

On his seventh combat mission his plane came under heavy fire over Germany.

"The plane was flying sideways because they only had one engine" that wasn't damaged, his daughter said. "The plane filled with smoke. Flak went through the pants of the bombardier and over the navigator's legs.

"Two fighter planes from the Allies escorted the War Weary and crew behind the Allied line. They somehow landed in a field in Belgium. All three were able to walk away from the plane, but my father did receive injuries" for which he was awarded the Purple Heart.

He was a member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and had been working in recent years for the establishment of the National Purple Heart Trail, which would designate highways in honor of wounded veterans.

After the war he attended the University of Pittsburgh, earning bachelor's and master's degrees.

Mr. Cunliffe was a former elder for First Presbyterian Church of Pittsburgh and recently had been attending Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church. He was a past president of the 388th Bomb Group Association. He volunteered with Sharing & Caring Inc., which takes patients from veterans hospitals on local river boat cruises. He was also a member of the Club de Monte Carlo, American Philatelic Society and the American Revenue Association.

The above was taken from an obituary in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

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