Orville Emil Bloch was born in Big Falls, Wisconsin on February 10, 1915. He later moved with his family to Steele, North Dakota. Bloch graduated from the North Dakota Agricultural College (the predecessor of NDSU) just before Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941.
Bloch went to all of the Army, Navy, and Marines as an officer applicant in the wake of the attack and was turned down by all three because he was very short at just 5′ 3″. He didn’t give up, and voluntarily enlisted as a Private in the United States Army on February 20, 1942 at age 27.