Robert, “Bob,” is a resilient 85-year-old Korean War Veteran who has strong emotional ties to his Navy days. From Fall 1952 to Fall 1954, Bob served as a Hospital Corpsman on the USS Midway, which at the time was the largest aircraft carrier in the world. Sixty years after his discharge from the Navy, Bob wished to once again step foot on the ship that played such an important role in his life and that paved the way for new heights in naval aviation.
Bob’s fervent personality and strong work ethic developed at a young age as a railroad worker and a farmer. At the age of fifteen, he spent a summer living and working on the Wabash Railroad between Fort Wayne and St Louis while his friends were in the service already. Steel was scarce as most of it was going towards the war effort, so Bob and his train crew were forced to weld and repair damaged tracks rather than replace them. Before joining the Navy, Bob also worked on his grandfather’s farm mowing hay, husking corn, and milking cows. At the age of 21, in the midst of the Korean War, Bob volunteered for the Navy and went through boot camp and medical training at Great Lakes Naval Station in Illinois.
After completing subsequent assignments at Naval stations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, Bob boarded the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier in Norfolk, Virginia. As a Hospital Corpsman, he worked in the 50-bed hospital on the boat, caring for the sick and wounded. There is a USS Midway model Bob made himself that sits on his desk at home that reminds him of the significant time in history that he’s proud to have been a part of. Over the course of his life, Bob overcame the toughest of challenges with remarkable perseverance.
As a Korean War Veteran, a recently-retired small business owner, and a family man, Bob is a truly inspiring American. The last time he had seen the USS Midway was when he was honorably discharged in October of 1954. Thanks to Wish of a Lifetime and sponsor Home Care Assistance – the leading provider of home care for older adults across the United States and Canada – on March 17th, 2015, Bob’s Wish came true. Bob, his daughters Deborah and Laura, and his friend Wilma were welcomed onto the USS Midway by Vern Jumper, Air Boss on the USS Midway during the Vietnam era; Docent Wayne Steele, who was also a former corpsman; two active duty Navy service members; USS Midway staff, and numerous media outlets. “I was astonished,” said Bob, “I will remember this wish for the rest of my life,” he concluded.
Photography by: Wes Westney