Skip to main content

Robert Conrad

1LT in Signal Co, Special : Officer

Military occupational specialty: 221


Born 1919 in NY, Died 2010

County of residence at enlistment: Nassau County, NY
Other residence(s): Cedarhurst, NY; New York, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: sales clerks
College education before the war: NYU 4 years
College education after the war: NYU (law)
Notes: Birth name Robert Cohen; ASN 1641858 in roster; 2LT on Signal Company Special Roster, 20 Oct 1944; listed with 406 on Col John Walker List
Source: Unit Shipment 10143-D, 23d HQ, from la Havre 23 June 1945; Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; Letter from Cliff Simenson, 27 Dec 2002; Col John Walker List; bio info from The Ghost Army by Beyer/Sayles; photo from Conrad Collection, GALP Archive

Bob Conrad was born Robert Cohen in New York City on August 4, 1919, the middle of three children. His father was a jewelry wholesaler; his mother and all four of his grandparents were born in Austria-Hungary.

Sometime between 1925 and 1930 the family moved to Cedarhurst, a village on Long Island. Bob graduated from Lawrence High School in Cedarhurst in 1936 where he spent two years as a cheerleader.

He received his undergraduate degree from NYU in 1940, and registered for the draft a few months later, on October 16, 1940. At the time he was working for Davega City Radio, probably as a salesclerk, since that's the profession he reported on April 15, 1941 when he enlisted.

While he enlisted as a private, his college education likely meant he was tapped for Officer Candidate School; he served in the Signal Company Special of the Ghost Army as a 2LT and later a 1LT. In The Ghost Army of World War II, Rick Beyer describes Lieutenant Conrad's arrival in Paris in August 1944 after the liberation. He and four other officers "commandeered a jeep and headed into town the day after they arrived. . . . Looking for Notre Dame cathedral, they were hailed by an American woman whom they asked for directions. She told them that General Eisenhower was taking part in a great celebration that day at the Arc de Triomphe and suggested they go there instead. . . . All were wearing Signal Corps uniforms, and since they were now practiced in the art of deception, they pretended to be Signal Corps photographers in order to get close. They watched as General Eisenhower laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. When the band struck up 'La Marseillaise,' Conrad was 'close to tears. It was really very moving. Eventually we over liberated the French, but at that point they loved us.'"

After his discharge from the Army, Bob returned to New York and enrolled in law school at NYU. After receiving his law degree, he would go on to practice law in New York for almost 60 years.

In 1950 he married Esther "Red" Nollman, a buyer for Filene's in Boston; they would go on to have two sons: Dan and Fred.

Bob was also active in Democratic Party politics at the local, state, and national levels and served as president of the City Club of New York, leaving that post in 1973 to become a trustee.

His obituary in the New York times recalls that "Bob loved music, ballet, and the theater; he was an enthusiastic and generous host, and loved a party. He and Esther were world travelers, always looking forward to their next trip."

Bob died in Ann Arbor, MI on February 18, 2010; Esther followed him three months later.


1920 census

1930 census

1936 high school yearbook

1940 draft card

1941 enlistment record

2010 New York Times obituary

2010 VA death record

2010 Find a Grave record

2010 New York Times obituary for his wife Esther

Please Support Our Ongoing Efforts

The soldiers of The Ghost Army used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and imagination to fool the Germans on the battlefields of Europe. The Ghost Army Legacy Project is ensuring that these men and their accomplishments are never forgotten.

Give via credit card by clicking the yellow “Donate” button.

Or, send a check to:

Ghost Army Legacy Project
1305 S. Michigan Ave. #1104
Chicago, IL 60605

All donations are tax-deductible!