The Lieutenant Robert P. Grover Memorial Park is located at the northwest corner of Broadman Parkway and John F. Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City. It is one of numerous municipal “pocket” parks which can be found throughout the city. Slightly less than one hundred feet square, Lt. Grover Park lies in the shadow of Snyder High School which stands directly across the street on Kennedy Boulevard.
The main feature of the park is the memorial built to honor the memory of Lieutenant Robert P. Grover, the first Jewish serviceman from Jersey City to die in combat during World War II. The monument was erected by the Lt. Robert P. Grover Post #377 of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States and the park was officially dedicated and renamed in his memory on May 11, 1952.
The tall fluted monument is located in the center of the park. It is painted white and stands on a large three-stepped base. There was once a bronze eagle perched at the top of the monument. A single bronze plaque is affixed to the front of the monument which bears the following inscription: “This park dedicated to the memory of Lt. Robert P. Grover, the first of his faith from this city who gave his life in World War II fighting to preserve the American Way of Life and in honor of all others in this community who served their country. Sponsored by Lt. Robert P. Grover Post 377, Jewish War Veterans of the United States.”
"Bob" Grover attended Lincoln High School and graduated from Dickinson High School in 1934. His senior photograph and yearbook entry shows that he enjoyed playing basketball and that he intended to pursue a college education at U.S.C. His yearbook quotation, "When youth and pleasure meet, to chase the glowing hours with flying feet" was taken from Lord Byron's poem, "The Eve of Waterloo." The line refers to the British and Prussian soldiers enjoying themselves at an evening ball in Brussels, unaware of the imminent approach of Napoleon's troops.
Robert Grover was a young man with a bright future ahead of him. In 1940, he was 24 years old and had completed two years of college. Employed as a shoe salesman, he was working about 50 hours a week earning approximately $1.50 an hour. He resided with his parents, grandmother, and younger brother, Murray (Morris). The four story, brick apartment building at 185 Bergen Avenue where the family lived is still standing on the west side of Bergen Avenue today, adjacent to the South District Police Precinct building.
After completing his training as a bombardier in April 1943, Grover, now a 1st Lieutenant, was assigned to the 337th squadron of the 96th Bomb Group. On May 21, 1943, Lt. Grover was the bombardier on board a B-17 aircraft that was flying over the North Sea towards the city of Emden, Germany on a mission to destroy the submarine yards of that city. The entire ten man crew was killed in action when their aircraft was shot down about 75 miles north of the Dutch coastline (Hallanan 2012).
Lt. Grover’s body washed ashore about a month later and he was buried in the Netherlands. His remains were eventually returned to New Jersey in 1949. He now rests alongside his parents in Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Fairview, NJ (Hallanan 2012). Lt. Grover's service and sacrifice was recognized by the United States Government, and he was a recipient of both the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart medal.
In May 2014 the Redstone Townhomes Neighborhood Association, founded in 2010, planted cherry trees and laid plaques for each of the Jersey City soldiers killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rafael A. Nieves, Jr., and Pfc. Leroy Deronde III, killed in Afghanistan, and Spc. Marion P. Jackson in Iraq were honored in a ceremony held in Grover Park.
The Gnome, The Yearbook of Dickinson High School 1934.
"Post Dedicates Grover Park in Greenville." Jersey Journal 12 May 1952.
"Fallen Jersey City Soldiers to Be Honored at Park Ceremony." Jersey Journal 30 May 2014.
Hallanan, John, January 12, 2013, "Lt. Robert Grover," e-mail to Patrick Shalhoub.
"Howard R. Cruse, 70, a Lawyer 49 Years." New York Times 2 July 1949.
U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989. "Jacob A. Grover." Jersey City, New Jersey City Directory, 1918. http://www.ancestry.com (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1940. "Robert Grover." http://www.ancestry.com (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946. "Robert Grover." http://www.ancestry.com (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S., World War II Jewish Servicemen Cards, 1942-1947. "Robert Grover." http://www.ancestry.com (accessed April 10, 2013).
U.S. Headstone Applications for U.S. Military Veterans, 1925-1941. "Robert Grover." http://www.ancestry.com (accessed April 10, 2013).
| By: Carmela Karnoutsos
Project Administrator: Patrick Shalhoub