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Recalling service

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Bob Nobbe holds a photograph of himself while he was in the Navy.
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Bob Nobbe is pictured with his wife, Darlene, at his 90th birthday party in August.

By KATE THURSTON - kthurston@newsexaminer.com

At just 17, Bob Nobbe decided he wanted to join the military.

“I had just graduated high school and my father was raising five children on 80 acres, so I knew college wasn’t in the works,” he said. “So, I signed up, the recruiting agent came to the house and my dad signed for me, because I was too young. The recruiter walked back across the field where dad was farming and got my dad to sign; he said I would never sign for another boy. My dad made my brothers wait until they were 18.”

Nobbe joined the Navy and serve in both World War II and the Korean war.

“I was in the Navy, I thought it was my duty to serve so I volunteered. I knew when I went in I was going to be drafted sooner or later, so I thought I might as well go ahead and do it. A few days later, I took a Greyhound bus to Indy, then I went to Great Lakes for boot camp, where I learned a lot. They ask who could type, so I volunteered because I took it in high school, they said there were going to make me a chaplain’s assistant. My job was to one letters and type for him.”

Soon after, Nobbe went to Norfolk, Virginia, to the Troop Ship USS Randal.”I was a seaman. All we did was chip and paint, chip and paint,” he laughed. 

He recalls going to many places including Italy, France, Puerto Rico, Cuba and, “We took a survey part up Antarctica. One thing I wasn’t proud of was how much I drank during the service but I haven’t drank since. I went from a small boy to a man in five and a-half years.”

Right before Nobbe was to be discharged, the Korean War broke out.

“In 13 days I was going to be discharged, then the Korean War broke out. I had a 30-day leave to come home, then I served the rest of my time on the same ship where I was in charge of the paint locker but didn’t have to paint or trip. I went through the Panama Canal twice. We took a load of soldiers to Korea once.”

He recalls several moments that made him laugh while he served.

“We had a brig on the ship, sometimes I had brig duty. We had a pair of twin brothers from Brooklyn and one of them got in trouble and I had to guard them in a cell. His brother came down and asked to talk to him, I said sure. I let him in, little later one of them came out but I didn’t know which one he was. I think they took turns, as long as I had one of them I didn’t care,” he laughed.

“Another time, I was to take soldiers into the beach. You couldn’t turn sideways, you had to back out or else you would tip over. I was taking 28 troops in and I was trying to get across a sandbar; a man, I can’t remember if he was a lieutenant or not, but he ordered me to drop the ramp, and I told him I wasn’t in there far enough yet and I told him it was too deep but he insisted and wouldn’t listen. He took one step off the ramp and went all the way under,” he laughed.

“I eventually got discharged, came home, got married to Darlene, we bought our first farm, then our second and it’s the only place I have ever lived. I have two farms now, 80 acres we live on and 110 acres a couple miles away. I farmed it for a while and worked at the telephone company for 26 years. I farmed at night and worked during the day, I didn’t know any better.”

Nobbe said one of his proudest accomplishments is that he has been married to his wife for 64 years.

He was also proud to go on the Indy Honor Flight and recalls carrying the Indiana Bicentennial torch when it came through Fayette County.

Nobbe said through it all, he learned to treat everyone like he wanted to be treated and you will always be happy.

Honoring local veterans

Monday is Veterans Day. Local groups have planned activities to honor veterans.

A dinner-dance is planned starting at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Eagles Aerie 1065. Veterans and spouses will be served a free supper; others may eat for $5. Music starts at 8 p.m. by Garrie D. Woolery and Backstage Pass. The Eagles lodge is at 800 N. Eastern Ave.

Breakfast for veterans and the public will be served at at 9 a.m. Monday at the American Legion Post 1. At 11 a..m., the Fayette County Veterans Honor Guard will have a 21-gun salute and Taps will be played in memory of those who have passed on. The Legion Post is at 902 N. Eastern Ave.

A lunch will be served at the Amvets at 1 p.m. Monday. It’s free for veterans; others may eat for $6. Amvets is located at 14i3 N. Eastern Ave.