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Robert Jennings Drain

T/4 in 3132nd Signal Service Co

Born 1915 in IN, Died 1960

Other residence(s): South Bend, IN
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: radio station engineer
Notes: Rank from caption on Ralston Collins Photo, October, 1944 and a November 1945 article in the South Bend Tribune; achieved rank of CPT in Army Reserve
Source: W. Anderson Notes; 3132 Caption List; photo courtesy Heather Collins Mendigorin from the collection of Ralston Barrett Collins

Bob Drain was born on January 23, 1915 in South Bend, IN, an only child. His mother had been born in Canada; his father worked as a clerk with a mercantile company and later as a salesman with a wholesale battery company.

Bob graduated from Central Senior High School in 1933; while a student there he was a regular participant in Drama Club productions. In 1934 he went to work at radio station WSBT (the initials stand for South Bend Tribune) as a staff announcer.

Within a couple of years he'd worked his way up to program director, and for a while he did commercial sales for the station. On July 30, 1938, he married Patricia McGraw.

From 1939-1942, Bob was a member of the board of directors of Community Theatre in South Bend, continuing his high school drama interest. He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and by the time he enlisted, late in 1943, he was working as an engineer at WSBT. In that capacity, he helped to set up the Tribune's new FM station.

His radio engineering experience (and possibly his drama skills?) got him assigned to the 3132 Signal Service Company, and he saw European service with the unit during the war. Bob and Pat's son, Michael, was born in 1944.

He was discharged from the Army in November, 1945 with the rank of T/4 and returned to South Bend where he served as program director for the FM station; by 1948, he had also assumed the same responsibilities for the AM station.

In the early 1950s, Bob set up the original programming structure for South Bend's new UHF TV station; he was a natural for this role because he was experienced in most phases of station operation (announcing, programming, engineering, and sales). He continued to work simultaneously as program director for the radio stations.

The new station, WSBT-TV, first signed on air in December, 1952, and it is the oldest continuously operating UHF station in the country. It was the first UHF station in the country to produce a live telecast, a five-minute local news bulletin; the first to telecast a high school basketball tournament; and the first to present a closed-circuit telecast of a college football practice, allowing the Notre Dame coach to direct the practice from his hospital bed. Bob developed his Notre Dame relationship further by sponsoring radio and TV internships for Notre Dame students.

He was a member of the South Bend Press Club and the Elks Lodge. He also continued his military commitment by participating in the Army Reserve, earning the rank of CPT.

In the mid-1950s, Bob developed heart disease, and in July, 1960 he asked to back off his work duties, due to his failing health. He was working as assistant program director at WSBT-TV when he died on October 26, 1960, and he is buried at Highland Cemetery in South Bend.


1920 census

1930 census

1932 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about a high school production he was in

1938 wedding announcement in the South Bend Tribune (IN)

1940 census

1940 draft card

1941 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his work for radio station WSBT as program director

1942 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his role with Community Theatre

1943 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his work for radio station WSBT as engineer

1944 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his military service; mentions Pine Camp

1945 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his military service

1945 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) re his discharge from the Army with the rank of T/4

1948 article in the South Bend Tribune (IN) about his career

1950 census

1953 press release about Notre Dame student internships with Drain (see page 2)

1960 Indiana death certificate

1960 Find a Grave record*1u9di4z*_gcl_au*MTkzNDY0Njk4MS4xNzA5OTQ3NDk0*_ga*NDE5MjQxNjE5LjE3MDk5NDc0OTU.*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*NzQ1YTcyMmUtNjFiOS00NGExLWE1NWMtMWZlZjZiYzg1NGU5LjEwLjEuMTcxMDE5MDYwMi40MS4wLjA.*_ga_LMK6K2LSJH*NzQ1YTcyMmUtNjFiOS00NGExLWE1NWMtMWZlZjZiYzg1NGU5LjEwLjEuMTcxMDE5MDYwMi4wLjAuMA..

1960 obituary in the South Bend Tribune (IN)

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