The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Robert Llewellyn Balfour

"I knew all about the atomic bomb two months before it happened, but we didn't know what we knew." (Video Interview, 33:11)

   Robert Llewellyn Balfour
Collection image
Robert Balfour being awarded a medal by Admiral William Halsey, November 11, 1945.
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Navy; Navy
Unit: 3rd Fleet
Service Location: Pacific Theater; also: Pacific Theater
Rank: Lieutenant Commander; Lieutenant Commander
View Full Description

He might have been found unfit for service when he enlisted in the wake of Pearl Harbor. But a determined Robert Balfour memorized the eye chart in his first Naval exam room and then managed to disguise a bum knee when he applied to become a Naval officer. He spent his first four months of duty in the Pacific on an LST that MacArthur would later use for his return to the Philippines, and Balfour spent much of the rest of the war working under Admiral Bull Halsey as a communications officer. He was on the deck of the Missouri when the surrender was signed--bad eyes, bad knee, and all.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (9 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 
Download: video(1) | 
Download: video(2) (118 min.)
»War-Time Photos  (4 photos)
»Post-War Photos  (8 photos)
»Memoir of Robert L. Balfour
 Official Documents
»View List (8 items)
More like this
»The War
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (9 items)
Cheating on his eye exam to get into the Navy. (02:16) A unique encounter with the Japanese near New Orleans. (01:31) Confusing the Japanese; a sniper's near miss of him. (02:28)
Bad typhoon; a misread message from Nimitz to Halsey. (05:05) Switching ships and just missing a kamikaze attack. (01:22) Communicating in code; access to top-secret clearance. (02:42)
Halsey on the eve of the surrender; his relationship with MacArthur. (03:42) Partying with the British officers after the end of the war. (01:48) Serving on Eisenhower's Presidential campaign staff. Serving on Eisenhower's Presidential campaign staff. (04:43)
 Official Documents (8 items)
Letter from Dwight Eisenhower [January 13, 1953] Letter from Dwight Eisenhower [April 29, 1953] Letter from William Jones, curator of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library [November 1, 1972].
Commendation from Admiral Halsey. Card certifying veteran's presence at the formal surrender of the Japanese [September 2, 1945] Description of card commemorating Japanese surrender.
Medal awarded veteran for participation in Eisnhower's campaign for President in 1952. Letter from Wayne Hood, Executive Director of the Republican National Committee [September 8, 1952] 

Home » Robert Llewellyn Balfour
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us