Obituary: Richard Shubock / Marine served in WWII, ran own auto repair shop

July 25, 1923 - July 30, 2013

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Richard Shubock, who joined the Marines two days after Pearl Harbor, served on Iwo Jima and then ran an auto repair shop for decades in East Pittsburgh, died Tuesday.

He was 90 and lived in North Huntingdon, where he had raised four daughters with his late wife, Ruth.

Mr. Shubock was like almost every other World War II combat veteran of the Pacific war: He never talked about the fighting or the horrors he witnessed and he never doubted the need to drop the atom bomb.

His Third Marine Division was preparing to invade Japan when the war ended in September 1945. Some historians estimate the Allies would have lost as many as 1 million men in an invasion of the home islands, based on how fanatically the Japanese had fought for Iwo Jima and every other speck of an island across the Pacific.

"The massacre they were expecting was immense," said his daughter, Paula Shubock of Forest Hills. "He felt that they all would have died. He knew it would be house-to-house fighting [against] every man, woman and child."

Mr. Shubock came home and got on with his life, building and operating Dooker's Bridge Auto Service while supporting his family. He was active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Amvets, serving in leadership positions, but he didn't like to relive the war.

"He didn't like war movies," his daughter said. "He said unless you're there, you don't understand. There's not much point talking about it."

Born in 1923 in East Pittsburgh, Mr. Shubock was the son of a machinist and a homemaker and grew up tough during the Depression.

"He said people were living in piano boxes, people were living in the street," his daughter said.

His parents had a garden in those years, and Mr. Shubock delivered vegetables to those in need. It was the thing to do in hard times, neighbor helping neighbor, and when the war came, there was no doubt he would serve his country.

On Dec. 9, 1941, two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he joined the Marines at age 18.

He spent the first two years of the war in Panama, protecting the Panama Canal and making sure the enemy didn't attack it. He was good with his hands and specialized in inspecting engines and mechanical equipment; his main job in Panama was inspecting ships.

He later served on Guam, where his unit protected and supported a construction battalion building an airstrip. He was driving a tanker truck there when a Japanese sniper shot him in the head. His helmet protected him, but the truck rolled over and crushed his foot, sending him to a field hospital for two months.

After his release, he saw more action on Guam with the Third Marine Division and, in February and March 1945, on Iwo Jima. Before going ashore, he witnessed fellow Marines raising the first American flag on Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23. (The second flag was raised later the same day and became an iconic image of the war.)

After the long battle for Iwo, Mr. Shubock prepared for the invasion of Japan, but the atom bomb ended the war.

Back in East Pittsburgh, he and his late brother, Gilbert, started their auto shop in a back alley garage across from Dooker's Hollow Bridge. Over the years, customers took to calling Mr. Shubock "Dooker" because of the location, and it became his nickname.

He bought out his brother in the 1970s and ran the shop himself. The business suffered badly after the collapse of the steel mills in 1982, but Mr. Shubock continued working through the 1990s.

On the side, he enjoyed playing the piano and liked collecting and restoring old cars, including a 1950 Lincoln Cosmopolitan, a 1970 Cadillac and a 1973 Jaguar.

After his wife died in 2007, Mr. Shubock lived alone in their North Huntingdon house until moving into Southwestern Veterans Center in 2012.

Besides his daughter Paula, Mr. Shubock is survived by three other daughters: Arlene Dodds of Leesburg, Va.; Janet Shubock of Squirrel Hill; and Ruth Ann Creamer of Waldorf, Md.

Mr. Shubock will be buried today with military honors at Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.


Torsten Ove: or 412-231-0132.


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