Saturday, May 4, 2013
Donald Roebling (1908-1959)
Donald Roebling is, indeed, not a household name these days. Born of a New York family that included the designer of Brooklyn Bridge (his grandfather, Washington A. Roebling), Roebling actually attended boarding school at the Stuyvesant School in Warrenton, Virginia for his high school years (class of 1926). Incidentally, the school was founded by a Mr. Edwin King that was a direct descendant of another New Yorker, the famous Dutchman Peter Stuyvesant.
Donald Roebling, some years after his high school graduation, was inspired to design a machine that could operate on both land and sea. His desire came from a wish to assist hurricane victims, as he had been living in Florida.
The result of his work was, however, a vehicle that caught the attention of the US Marine Corps, and would become known as the LVT -- Landing Vehicle, Tracked. He had called it the alligator.
This website gives a splendid overview of the vehicle:
Donald Roebling ended up a rather roundabout Marine Corps hero, with his invention being constructed by the thousand for the amphibious assaults of World War II.
His home in Clearwater, Florida, is on the register of historic places. The rotund Roebling died in 1959 in the wake of Gall Bladder surgery.
Today, there is a Roebling Street in Warrenton, Virginia, near the site of his old high school alma mater (now St. John the Evangelist Parish and School).
Here is a Time article on Mr. Roebling:
This link goes to a lengthy work on Roebling's Amphibian:
With acknowledgements to Mr. John Toler, whose article in the May 2013 issue of Warrenton Living brought Donald Roebling to his attention and provided a number of details mentioned in this post.