Armed with a friendly wit and a jovial temperament, a first impression of Bob Buell belies the profound adversity he endured during the Second World War.
"Where I grew up there were only two classes of people - poor and poorer," Buell joked.
Graduating from high school in Bradford, Ct., in June 1941, Buell began working at a local factory. It didn't take him long, however, to realize the monotony associated with such a job wasn't to his taste.
After visiting with an Army recruiter, Buell and some friends were convinced they should enlist to serve at the army base at Pearl Harbor. But when they returned the next week to sign their enlistment papers, the positions were no longer available.
"It's one of those cirucmstances that saved my life, I guess," Buell said. "A couple of months later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor."