Posted: January 18, 2015
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Roland E. "Gene" Roupe, Lt. Col. (USAF) Ret., 89, passed away Jan. 15, 2015, in Cedar Rapids. A funeral service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church, of which Roland was a member, on Tues-day, Jan. 20, at 11 a.m. The church is located at 1285 Third Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403. Visitation will precede the service at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery in Cedar Rapids.
Roland was the son of Arnold and Florence Roupe, born in Cedar Rapids on May 18, 1925. He spent most of his life in the Cedar Rapids and Marion area except for time spent in the military, other travel, and summers in his home on the Ausable River near Grayling, Mich. Roland grew up in Cedar Rapids and graduated from Franklin High School in 1942. He worked for a year as a shipyard welder in Seattle, Wash., until turning 18, the minimum age for entry into what was then the Army Air Corps. He entered navigation training as an aviation cadet and on completion of that course, received his commission as a second lieutenant and was sent to Advanced Radar Navigation School. Following that he was assigned to a B-29 bomber crew which was dispatched to Guam to fly missions against Japan. Apart from the missions which he said were pretty routine, memories of two events stayed with him the rest of his life. Not too long after the fighting to take Iwo Jima had ceased, it was necessary to land there for minor repairs and to add enough fuel to insure they would make it back to Guam. He and a crewmate scaled Mount Suribachi and from that vantage point looked down on a scene of utter devastation. Realizing that 7,000 United States Marines had lost their lives there just weeks earlier was an overwhelming thought. Conversely, a couple of months later, a second memory was very pleasant. On Sept. 2, 1945, flying over Tokyo Bay, he was able to look down on the deck of the USS Missouri as papers were being signed ending World War II. Roland was honorably discharged and back home in Cedar Rapids before his 21st birthday and entered Coe College, subsequently graduating and receiving his B.A. degree. Roland later re-entered the Air Force and during the Cuban Missile Crisis was assigned as an Atlas ICBM launch crew commander. Following that he attended Staff Transportation Officer School and then assumed command of the transportation squadron at Ramey Air Force Base in Puerto Rico. Next, he was sent to Vietnam, where he served as deputy director, Operations, of the Transportation Management Agency of MACU Headquarters. His primary duty was to maintain surveillance over aerial ports, but in addition, he evaluated implementation of a new type of vessel serving waterports along the Mekong River. The craft was capable of carrying and off-loading loaded trailers which could be moved directly to their destinations, thereby lessening the amount of cargo requiring handling in ports which had become clogged. On returning to the United States, Roland commanded the transportation squadron at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, followed by an ROTC assignment at Michigan State University. Nearing the end of his career, he was assigned by the Air Force to the Defense Logistics Agency at the Detroit and Boston Regional Headquarters, respectively. During those assignments he developed a freight consolidation program for combining smaller cargos into truckload shipments for material shipped from contractor plants to military destinations. Savings by using lower truckload rates were substantial. On his retirement from the Air Force, he traveled widely and on reflection realized he had not only visited all 50 states, but had spent at least one night in each of them. He also traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. On one trip, which included a visit to Calcutta, he was invited to meet with Mother Teresa. He found her to be a warm and outgoing person, and somewhat surprisingly, a person with a great sense of humor. Among his awards and decorations were the Bronze Star, Air Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Clusters, several campaign medals and the Vietnam Honor Medal awarded by that country. Among his interests was mycology, the study of mushrooms. His interest went beyond the identification of species to actually raising shitake and oyster mushrooms in his backyard in Marion. However, his major passion was fishing. He was a member of Trout Unlimited, an accomplished tyer, and had wet a line in waters from Puget Sound to the streams of Vermont, and from Canada to Puerto Rico. But he always regarded the Wapsipinicon as his "home" river. Preceding him in death were his parents, Arnold and Florence Roupe; and his wife, Shirley.
He is survived by his children, Sheryl Roupe of Hiawatha, Teresa (Alex Zadeh) of Santa Barbara, Calif., Jeff (Penny) of Fort Worth, Texas, and Greg of lnverness, Fla.; grand-daughter, Jayne (Tobin) of Boulder, Colo.; and granddaughter, Diamond of Fort Worth, Texas. Additional survivors are his siblings, Dorothy Harlan (Don) of Cedar Rapids, Marvin of Windsor, Calif., and David (Marilyn) of Crestline, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews.