Picture: Major General Robert Sadler, a well-known, highly-decorated Air Force officer and DEW Line innovator, was from Clinton.
In 1941, a family by the name of Sadler moved from Belle Plaine, Iowa, to Clinton. Mr. Sadler worked for years on the railroad. Now that times were improving from the Depression Era, he took a new position with the Chicago Northwestern here.
There were four sons and two daughters to uproot and bring to Clinton. The senior Sadlers, Ed and Elsie, were hard-working folks who lived on south Fourth Street, Near the Old Dutch Mill -- with its big red cone over the door. They were well thought of, and all their children were bright and ambitious.
Their oldest, Robert Sadler, graduated from Clinton High School in 1942, at age 16. He went to work on the railroad for a year and then, at age 17, enlisted and began a distinguished Air Force career. Bob and his bride, Kathleen, would raise six children in the service and, despite needing to move frequently, all would become college graduates.
Many years later, when informed their dad was being honored by the family’s hometown of Belle Plaine, son Michael remarked, “Mom (Elsie Sadler) should be the one honored!”-- for raising a family who succeeded so well in life.
Bob was a jovial fellow and was known to break into the song “I’m from I-O-Way!” often.
He was a well-liked navigator, who rose through the ranks (with service during WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam) to head an Air Force global communications network… that was after achieving his electrical engineering degree at the University of Colorado and graduating from the Air War College in the 1960s.
General Sadler was a lynchpin in the important DEW Line defense system guarding America, and was one of five key Air Force generals at the time of his retirement. He received the seldom-awarded honor of “The Order of the Sword,” and other distinctions too numerous to list. His picture hangs with honor in the Pentagon, and the Air Force gives an annual “top communicator” award that is named for him.