Bob first learned to hunt from his father, using a rifle to shoot rabbits and deer. After Bob graduated from JTHS in 1943, he volunteered for the Army.
The Army needed sharpshooters so those trying out were put in front of a target and handed an M1 gun, Mary said.
Bob, who never had a rifle stand or a target that wasn’t moving, thought, “This is the easiest
thing in the world,” Mary said.
“He just went ‘bang-bang-bang’ and hit the middle of the target every time,” Mary said. “They brought the leader over and said, ‘You’ve got to watch this guy.”
As an Army sharpshooter, Bob often sat hidden in a tree to “take out” German officers from 500 yards away, Mary said. He explained it to her like this.
“You only get one shot,” Mary said. “You have to be very patient. When the German officers first come out, he looks kind of scared. He’s looking around and not standing by himself at all. You wait until he’s a little more relaxed and then you take your shot and all hell breaks loose. You don’t dare move.”
Mary said Bob “always felt bad about killing people.”
“He did his mission, but he always felt bad about killing another human being,” Mary said. “He said, ‘They’re just like me. They got into the war and they’re trying to live their lives.’”
Bob was eventually sent to Arnhem as part of the 101st Airborne Division to help evacuate the British troops during Operation Market Garden, Mary said, adding this battle inspired the 1977 movie “A Bridge Too Far."
“It was a very bloody battle. A lot of people were killed,” Mary said. “My dad’s colonel was killed a few days after my dad was wounded. My dad and two others guys were hit by shrapnel from a mortar shell. The other two guys died. They thought my dad died. They gave him his last rites. He was wounded from head to toe.”