Robert Raymond Hiller
CPT in 3132nd Signal Service Co
Born 1917 in WI, Died 2003
Other residence(s): Wauwatosa, WI; Madison, WI in 1944; recently in Park Ridge, IL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: semiskilled linemen and servicemen, telegraph, telephone, and power
College education before the war: Univ. of Wisconsin 4 years
Robert Hiller was born in Milwaukee, WI on September 11, 1917, the older of two sons. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1939, and went to work for the Wisconsin Telephone Company, where his father was an executive.
He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and enlisted in 1941. He was first sent to Fort Sheridan in Illinois for basic training; it was there that he would meet his future wife, Shirley Roberts, when her parents invited him for dinner.
In October, 1941, he was sent to Officer Candidate School, the Signal Corps School at Fort Monmouth, NJ. By the time he and Shirley announced their engagement, in May of 1943, he had been promoted to 1LT, and later that summer he was stationed at Camp Polk, LA, commanding the 148th Armed Signal Co. That October he was promoted to CPT, and married Shirley.
Robert went to Europe in 1944 with the 3132 Signal Service Company, serving as its executive officer. He was so inspired by his combat deception experience that, when he was discharged from the Army in the fall of 1945, with the rank of Major, he and his brother-in-law, Thomas Roberts, launched the Midwest Visual Equipment Co. His son David explained this in his obituary, saying: "Partly his interest in the new technologies grew out of his sonic-deception unit because the unit was using what was then the very new equipment of thin wire instead of tape to record all those sounds of motorized vehicles and troop movements. . . . I think the two saw the great potential of applying that technology to education and training."
The company, based in Lincolnwood, IL, became a leader in the emerging field of audiovisual education and training, and one of the largest distributors of those products to schools and businesses in the Midwest.
Robert and Shirley would go on to have three sons: Robert, Jr., Scott, and David. Robert would be active with them in school activities and Boy Scouting.
Robert retired from the company he co-founded, and of which he served as vice president, in 1979; he and his wife were able to spend the subsequent years traveling extensively.
He died on February 18, 2003 in Park Ridge, IL.
1940 draft card
1941 enlistment record
1941 article in The Sheboygan Press (WI) re his being sent to OCS at Fort Monmouth
1943 engagement announcement in Chicago Tribune
1943 letter to the editor in the Acadian-Signal (Crowley LA)
1943 article in Oshkosh Northwestern (WI) re his promotion to CPT
1943 marriage record
2003 obituary in Chicago Tribune