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Robert Grant Shears was born to Robert Lee and Mary Shears on March 15, 1914 in Boone County, Kentucky. One of 13 children, Robert grew up in Florence, where Lee worked in construction and served as Florence's first police chief.
Robert enlisted in the United States Army on April 5, 1941 at Fort Thomas, in Campbell County, Kentucky. At the time of enlistment, he lists his occupation as a bus/truck/tractor driver. In September 1943, he was stationed in Sicily with the 179th Infantry of the 45th Army Division. On September 11, 1943, Private Robert G. Shears was killed in Salerno, Italy during Operation Avalanche. He is buried in Italy with many of his fellow soldiers. He was awarded the Purple Heart for the wounds he received in combat.