Reflections from Charlotte on Vietnam and Family

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Bob was the smartest man I ever met...
He expected a lot of others and this was not always easy. For example, as a young wife with two toddlers, he gave me a reading list to accomplish numbered 1-20. Things he thought I should read to enlarge my world. Once I was given what might amount to a power point presentation on the flow of electrical current all while fixing dinner I never did understand why I needed to know this. Now I understand that I needed to know and appreciate his intelligence and more important his need to teach and inform others this seems simple looking back. It was easy to embrace his expectations of others as his expectations of himself were very high and he was harder on himself than he was on anyone else.

He was childlike while also able to handle all the challenges of a very adult world including being thrust into the Vietnam war with the conflicts of mission, ethics, personal responsibility and deteriorating attitude of the military on display in every state of the union.
He loved his family and children above all things and he held their happiness. Safety and well being above all things which is what drove all his decisions no matter the challenges that we all faced, and there were many.
He spent a lot of his precious spare time at home inventing projects and things for a young family. Together we built an A frame play house  and jungle gym with so many special features that even the homeless found their way to the outside housing experience. He had the family "practice camping"  in the back yard to make sure we were all "worthy and prepared" for the anticipated camp out. He made us an elaborate 4x6 foot salt water aquarium. It was so spectacular that it deserved its own open house. As a young officer in Sacramento going through Navigator training or "Alligator School" as Robin called it we invited the other young officers and wives for an unveiling. Each couple brought fish to stock the aquarium. It was a "happening" for this crowd.
Bob built a very sturdy bunk bed and desk combination for a small 4 year old Doug.The same task he was doing on his last day on earth for his beloved Ryan. He always made and did things for his kids. Who could forget train sets and tracks set up on plywood for a one year old Douglas...for sure Bob remained a child at heart. When Robin was sick with the measles on a fresh spring day, Bob went outside and got a kite up in the air and somehow we got the string up to her in her bedroom window on the second floor of the little house in Groveport, Ohio. Bob knew as I did that she thoroughly enjoyed this kite flying adventure from the confinement of her room. Bob was absolutely giddy as he knew that he had thought of the perfect remedy for that day.
Bob was more than conflicted about the Vietnam war. He loved his country and was proud of his military commitment and his career. When the Vietnam War became unpopular and he and his friends were flying the B-52 over North Vietnamese knowing they were bombing and re-bombing the same places and not seeing progress, Bob referred to this as "killing monkeys" as they saw not much on many days flying over the jungles, but he suspected they were killing more than monkeys. Even though reports of the actual body counts were not truthful at the time.  Bob secretly wrote to high ranking Congressmen and candidates in the presidential primary. Giving them a view from the front lines, a first hand account, unfiltered, expressing his concerns. One of the pictures posted on this web site is of Bob giving the peace sign.  This picture was taken in front of the officer's swimming pool in Utapao, Thailand shortly before or after a bombing run over the North (and the number well  exceeded 300 that he flew himself). This peace sign typical of the growing Hippie Movement was his signal to us at home of his hope for ending the war with a peaceful exit and no more endless loss of life.  He was gone from his young family over 4 1/2 years for six months at a time on these bombing missions with 28  days at home between missions this was hard on all military families involved in these circumstances. We and many others in similar circumstances, thought of the end of our marriages as yet another Vietnam War Casualty. Never was Bob less than a loving father who was loved in return by his kids and his family.