A Naval Aviator Begins & Ends His Career at NAS Grosse Ile
(A series of recorded conversations with Robert “Bob” Guilbault, CDR USNR Retired)
By Hal Neubauer
Bob, I first met you in 1958 when you, along with many other pilots at Grosse Ile, were transitioning into the S2F. I was instructing classes in the aircraft’s ASW systems at that time. I subsequently learned that you had an extensive, and rewarding Navy career, that began at the Base and sort of ended there with its closing some 30+ years later. We would like to learn a little about all your experiences with an emphasis on those relating to Grosse Ile. How did you become involved?
Well, I was a kid in High School when Pearl Harbor happened. I graduated in June of 1942. I was 17. I wanted to fly all my life.
As a little kid growing up in the U.P. (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) I used to go outside and pretend I was a pilot. I dug a hole in the ground and used to sit in it with a piece of broomstick and fly all over the world. My heroes were Jimmy Doolittle, the German Baron Von Ricktover, and Eddie Rickenbacker. I was fixated on aviation and jumping ahead mentally when I got into an airplane I just knew I would know how to fly. I knew what the rudders did, what the stick did, what the throttles did, and everything. I would not have needed anybody to teach me. Because I knew how to fly, or thought I did.
Now, prior to the war, the Navy at that time required pilots to have 4 years of college. They quickly cut that to 2 years, as I recall. And then all of a sudden they said you could take equivalency exams and if you passed everything you could become a Cadet.
What prompted these changes?
The war was now on and the need for pilots was extraordinary. Anyway, I went to the Flint Post Office in July 1942 and took this first little test. It was very simple. Something like do you know your own name, where do you live, can you remember your telephone number. It was really nothing. Then I waited and waited and waited and waited. Then In December of 1942 I went to Detroit to the Fort Shelby Hotel. There was something like 300 people there from all over. They came from Iowa, and all around. I assume they did this in other parts of the country as well. The preponderance of the people at the Hotel was from Michigan and surrounding States.
We had three solid days of scholastic tests and examinations. I mean solid days! I’ve never been through anything like that in my life. And it turned out something like 30 of us got in. These 300 or so people who applied were like guys off the streets and you need to understand that the Navy was very strict. The 30 or so of us passed all the equivalency tests and I was sooo proud.
Now, at that time the Air Corps was in need of pilots too. But the Navy was excellent at grabbing off the eligible people for the Cadet Program. They used recognized celebrities to do their recruiting. Known Ball Players, Actors, etc. So the Navy signed up thousands like me. From December of 42 to August of 43 I was waiting to enter Cadet Training.
The Air Corp got upset with the Navy about this. They demanded that the Navy take these guys (like me) onto active duty or release them so the Air Corp could have a chance at recruiting them to fill their need for pilots to train. So the Navy had to do something.
Someone came up with the idea of the TARMAC, which stood for Temporary Air Recruit Awaiting Cadets. Tarmac also stands for the space where airplanes are parked. Finally the Navy, with all the pressure on them, invented the TARMAC Program. And, I was in the first group and assigned to Grosse Ile of all places.
So tell us what happened when you got to NAS Grosse Ile.
As a TARMAC we were considered a seaman second-class. (An enlisted rank.) The way the Chiefs and such could tell the difference between the TARMACS and the other Seamen around, was that the regular sailors wore a black web belt and we wore a brown belt. That designated us a TARMAC enroot to be a Cadet.
Part of our duties involved going out to one of the outlying fields where the Cadets were taught small field approaches; slips to a circle; take-offs and landings; and in formation as well. It was all fun to watch! We rode out from Grosse Ile and back in an open, slat-sided, cattle trailer. Our ages ranged from “kids” of 18 to “old men” of 26. Many had college credits. The “Old Men tended to lead the “song fest” while the rest of us joined in and learned the lyrics as we rode out to Newport Field or one of the other fields. We weren’t good but we were sure LOUD! While we sang the many Navy and College songs passing motorists would honk their horns and wave. These were HAPPY DAYS for me!! We were so excited about it! We gassed airplanes. We walked the wings. We pulled chocks. We cranked the inertia starters.
What do you mean: “you walked the wings”?
Well, with these brave new United Kingdom (British-Australian) Cadets they were bran new. And, when they went solo we had to see that they didn’t run into anything. There was someone walking with the plane at each wing tip, particularly in the parking areas.
So, as a TARMAC waiting for entry into cadet training yourself, you were supporting the training of British FAA & RAF cadets at NAS Grosse Ile.
Right! We were totally thrilled and this was wonderful because down the road WE were going to be in that cockpit.
We had some interesting experiences.
So many of the British did not drive cars like we did. Many didn’t even have bicycles. They weren’t familiar with brakes. They had little or no experience with controlling something mechanical like we did. I had a model A Ford. Consequently they didn’t have the feel for things mechanical. A number of them put the planes up on their nose by hitting the brakes too hard. And had problems starting. It took a lot of muscle to get those inertia starters revved up. We would get them going then yell to the cockpit “contact” and the reply would be “contact”. Then we’d yell, “switch on” and they would reply “switch on”. No doubt like you’ve seen in the old movies. Well, we went through this about four times with one of those guys. We were exhausted cranking the starter and the guy just couldn’t get the plane started. Finally, I told my buddy, “You crank this time and I’ll get up on the wing and see what’s going on”. So I discovered when “contact” was yelled he was turning the gas switch on and off instead of the magneto. Of course he was like us and very excited to be there.
Do you suppose he made it through cadet training?
He probably did. He was probably so darn excited you know about the whole thing.
In addition to the flight line duty, we had a lot of drilling and ground school. We learned how to be a sailor – a boot camp sort of experience. We did a lot of physical training. When we were through with that we worked in the parachute loft and other areas in a support capacity. They didn’t give us anything too important to do. We provided extra labor and a willing pair of hands when needed. And very glad to be there by the way.
We had essentially one platoon of about 30 of us. We were housed in the barracks and ate in the mess hall. We had different hours than the cadets and had very little contact with them. Our interaction was just on the flight line.
About Christmas time I transferred to flight prep school in Delaware, Ohio at Ohio Wesleyan College. At that time we changed uniforms and became a cadet. A V-5’er. That was the official designation of the Cadet Program. This was all college studies. We studied things like, military sciences, aerography, theory of flight, etc. Received a full-blown introduction to Naval Aviation, power plants, airframes and the like, and, of course, drilling and physical conditioning as well.
Where did you go after Delaware?
I went to WTS (war training service). I was sent to Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan for this phase. There we spent about half of the day in class and the rest of our time was split between athletics or the local airport learning to fly. My plane was a J3 Club, a.k.a. ‘the Flea Forty’. I ended up with a total of 60.25 hours.
We left there and went to Iowa University in Iowa City, Iowa for preflight training. That was the toughest, strongest, hardest physical training I’ve ever been through in my life. It was tough and demanding. I remember I weighed 165 pounds at that time and I had normally weighted 150. I was hard as a rock and could run 5 miles without raising a sweat. Every day we had 3 sessions of athletics besides all the class work.
When we finished here many of us got the shock of our lives! This was our first encounter with the classic concept- “The needs of the service”. The war in the Pacific was going better than expected. The Navy was losing fewer pilots than anticipated. The “pipeline” was loaded. They kept adding more and more training activities. We seemed to be increasingly more removed from earning our wings. So, the decision was made to dramatically cut back pilot training.
I found myself, along with hundreds of others, looking for another line of work. If I wasn’t to be a pilot, I still wanted to fly, so I applied for Naval Air Gunnery School. When I was accepted I was excited, and would still be flying. Our syllabus was really complete. We ended up being qualified in all of the airborne gun turrets. The nose, upper deck, tail, side bubble, and belly ball. Each was different with individual gun placement, sighting, and tracking speed, etc. I also learned to shoot and care for a 20mm deck gun. All of this was combined with different moving mounts and various targets. Upon completion of this training, I learned about a few openings in the Naval Air Bombardier School at NAS Banana River (now Patrick AFB).
I applied and was accepted. 20 of us then were schooled in the use of the then “Top Secret” Nordin bombsight. We learned the basics using a powered cart in a hanger that was elevated and moved around about 12 feet above the deck. Our actual flight experience was in an SNB (twin engine) with a glass nose where the bombsight was installed. We also trained for day and night bombing in a PBY-5 “Catalina” Our target range was located in Lake Okeechobee west of Miami. Our targets were in the lake and consisted of a fixed target and an armored boat that took evasive maneuvers. The day I qualified we received word that the Navy was sending an officer to speak with all the former NavCads.
We gathered the next day in the theatre to a dramatic specter. The lights were low and on stage was a huge spotlighted American flag. The National Anthem played. The light went up and a Lieutenant Commander wearing bright gold wings and a chest full of ribbons appeared on stage. His message was simple. The Navy had made a mistake dropping so many Cadets. We were offered the chance to return to pilot training. If we accepted, we would be sent to a preflight refresher at North Carolina University for one month and then on to Primary Flight Training at NAS Bunker Hill, Indiana. Once again my original dream was becoming a reality.
I guess your convoluted journey is what caused so many of us to coin the phrase, “The right way the wrong way and the Navy way.”
That is correct but at least my journey toward a life’s goal was once again on track.
At NAS Bunker Hill we completed primary training (some times referred to as an “E” base). Here we flew the N2S bi-plane. The same trainers the cadets at NAS GI flew. Later Bunker Hill became an Air Force Base. While there I had 108.1 hours in the N2S.
At this point I had been at GI for 4 months, Delaware for 3 or 4 months, Mt Pleasant for 4 months, and Iowa City for 4 months.
Apparently during WW II the US had many Bases like Grosse Ile where Cadet training took place.
Right! In fact, some guys were sent out to California, and St Mary’s College and all over the place in the US.
Were British Cadets trained at these locations as well or just US Cadets?
I believe that Grosse Ile was pretty much it for the English Cadet Training Program in the United States. I believe Grosse Ile was unique in that sense. Incidentally, they went from Grosse Ile to Pensacola where they actually earned their wings.
So, when you completed Primary or “E” training you went to Pensacola.
Yes. I went through a lot of training there. In fact, when I completed my training at Bunker Hill I was waiting for the train to Pensacola and the war ended.
Here I am, I’ve had it jammed up my rear that I am going to make the difference! There is no prize for second place!! I’m going to win the war because I’m a Naval Aviator and there ain't nothing better!!! You know, and all of that stuff, and I’m terribly young and impressionable and I’m thinking, “It can’t be over yet because I haven’t gotten there yet”. It just can’t be over! I realize of course that I was lucky in a sense for never having gotten shot at I guess.
I remember flying Corsairs and pooping along at altitude like that and another Corsair is coming at you to fire at the target I’m towing. They’re headed nose at you but the way the bullets go they are actually hitting the sleeve. Boy, but even so, one day I came back without the cowl flap and I’m not sure where it went.
Upon graduation you served with the fleet. Tell us what happened after Pensacola.
We went through the whole program at Pensacola. We got our wings, our commissions, the uniforms that last week. Then we had a week where they taught us how to be an officer in case you missed it somewhere in your training.
Normally after completing a program like that the Navy would give you some time off but we didn’t get to go home yet. They sent us to Soffley Field north west of Pensacola. We shot field carrier landings with the SNJ. Almost all my time at Pensacola was in SNJ’s I acquired 255.8 hours. My primary trainer was the N2S and they had wooden props until the N2S-5’s came out. After completing a number of field carrier landings at Soffley we went aboard the Ranger and got our qualifying landings. So, then we were officially Carrier Qualified Naval Aviators. THEN, we were allowed to go home on leave.
How much time elapsed from the day you reported aboard NAS Grosse Ile until you became a Qualified Carrier Pilot?
From August 11, 1943 until April 3, 1946 almost 3 years. I need to go back a bit and explain something. I arrived at Pensacola after completing primary and the war was over. They gave us 3 options.
out and go home—which a lot of guys did.
And for me, as much as I loved to fly, that was the only choice. The other two options were for the other guys, not me. So, anyway then I flew preoperational in the SBD. I guess you could say that plane was my introduction to dive-bombing. I spent 7.9 hours in it. Then I went to Jacksonville, Florida for operational training in the SB2C. Affectionately referred to as the “Beast”. That is where you really learn the airplane and it becomes part of you. And so, you and your plane become an unbeatable machine, waiting for a challenge.
Now, both the SBD and SB2C were operational aircraft not trainers. The SBD was a lot like a big SNJ. It was very light on the controls—responsive. It flew the way you think airplanes are supposed to fly. Very easy to control. It seemed to hang on its flaps in a dive with total control all the way down until you dropped your bomb.
The “Beast” (SB2C) was very heavy on the controls. It didn’t respond quickly. And when you rolled in at 10,000 feet you had to get on the target quick and stay there. I use the term “micro-manage” the controls to stay on the target. If you got off the least little bit you had to fight it to re-acquire the target. You had to fight it all the way down. On top of that it seemed so heavy it was like driving a locomotive. On your landing, it could be unpredictable. One time, it would want to float; next it could come down like a load of bricks. I’ve given more than enough reason why many pilots would not consider it their favorite, especially if they had little or now experience in it previously. Me. Again, it just could be that I enjoyed showing the SB2C who was “boss”. Then, again, I’ve never flown an airplane I didn’t love. I had lots of hours and operational training in the SB2C. 397 hours to be exact. That was the plane I was to go to war in. I flew it from 2 carriers. After so many hours you became one with the airplane.
Did you have a crewman aboard?
Yes, He was a gunner and radio operator. And I suppose to save his ass as well as mine he would call off the altitude while we were making our dive. 9000 feet, 8000 feet, 7000 feet, etc until we would drop and pull up.
This was to aid the pilot against target fixation?
That’s right. The competition was so great. Air Groups competed against Air Groups; Squadrons against Squadrons; Flights against Flights; and Buddy against Buddy. No prize for second place so you were really aggressively out to win. We were preparing for War! And there were guys who flew right into the bull’s eye. Never did pull up! We were to dump at 3,000 feet and then pull out generally at 1,000 thousand feet. But you got going like about 300 mile per hour, or something like that, and you go from 10,000 to 2,000 feet pretty quickly.
One time I (pause) we had a G meter (pause)
Bob, a G meter is used to determine the amount of gradational pull you are experiencing?
Exactly! And if you pulled so many G’s the meter would stick up there so the plane captain could look in there and see that. One time—I went too far—and I pulled—and I REALLY had to pull back on the stick because I didn’t start soon enough. And I ended up with the G meter stuck on 12 G’s.
What was the SB2C rated for or what should you have pulled?
Six maybe eight G’s! And my pull out put wrinkles in the wings. And that thing (the Beast) was like a tank. The wings on that thing… boy were something. It had a BIG wing surface too.
I’ll bet the plane captain was not too happy with you.
Yea, to say the least, and I don’t remember anyone flying that one again either.
From there we were “qualified” aboard the USS Saipan CVL 48 and then to electronics school at Norfolk and finally, to my fleet squadron out of Quonset Pt on the Philippine Sea CV 47.
How many years did you fly that type aircraft?
Oh, I guess from 1946 until 1948. Really what happened in 1948 was I got out and joined the Reserves. And originally in the Reserves we had SB2C’s but we had them at Grosse Ile for a short time. I had to wait for a spot in the Reserves. It wasn’t automatic. The Reserves ranks were crowded. There weren’t any spots open in the units for pilots. And then, as I recall, in August of 48 a guy put an SB2C in the water there in Lake Erie. The story goes that a “P” Boat (meaning PBY) ending up running over him.
You mean they ran over the pilot in the water?
He was on the wing. They saw him out of the aircraft and on the wing. The “P” boat came around and landed and supposedly they must have hit him in the process because he was gone. So, they concluded they must have hit him. I don’t know if the body was ever recovered. And if my memory serves me correctly, that opened up the spot I filled in the squadron. That’s how I got my billet in August of 1948
After getting your Reserve billet at Grosse Ile what happened?
Well as I said we only had SB2C’s at Grosse Ile a short time. All told I had 397 hours from June 5, 1946 to April 23, of 49 in the aircraft. Well, after a while they switched us to the Corsair. The F4U-4’s. I think this was 2 years later after flying the SB2C’s at the base.
I flew the Corsair about 4 or 5 years while at Grosse Ile. I had 480 hours of combined time in the F4U-4 and the FG-1D. From May 18, 1949 to March 26 of 56. I was in VF 737. The patch we designed was the Skull and 2 Lightning Flashes. In fact I won the contest we had to design the patch. Boy, was I ever proud of that. In august 1953, the 16 through the 27 to be specific, in company with my mates in VF 737 were caped off our 2-week cruise at NAS Quonset Pt. By shooting field carrier quals in the F4U. We followed that by flying out in the Atlantic to the USS Tarawa CV 40 and making our 6 qualifying landings. I managed to get several extra fl8ight while we were aboard. (Putting up you hand will help) and Low and behold, I managed to make the 45,000 landing for that ship. We celebrated the occasion by getting a cake made with my name and squadron on it. Damn! I just love that traditional stuff! Now during that time period, they recalled a Patrol Squadron and 2 Marine Squadrons of Corsairs from the base during the Korean War. And at that time a number of Navy Reserve pilots also volunteered for active duty during that time frame and they too flew Corsairs. While flying Corsairs I also flew the FH-1 Phantom. We had them for a year and a half or something like that. I was among a hand full of Grosse Ile pilots who qualified to fly the Phantom but I only accumulated little over 10 hours in it.
Why were the Phantoms so short lived?
Well, like I mentioned in my email, I’m not really sure but this one guy had a problem. It was sooo funny. In the ground school, like I mentioned, we were trained on all the aircraft systems. While the fuel system was extremely complicated, it was a beautiful little airplane to fly. The fuel system had three valves and you had to line them up exactly right. And switch them exactly right or you were gona lose the engines. So this guy gets up and volunteers in class to draw on the board and explained the system to the rest of us. And we are all working hard to understand the process and get it just right.
Any way this guy gets his flight scheduled. He takes off and goes up toward Flint and he switches the wrong valve. You know, he’s just another squadron guy like me and he puts it in the mud in a farmer’s field. They wrote up his interview in the Flint Journal. “I was pooping along at about 500 knots and both fires went out.” Like a real “hot-dog” you know but I think it was he last of his flying. I don’t recall I ever saw him around any more. I could understand how it could happen. You really had to think it out before you began switching those valves.
In fact, that was one of the things I forgot to mention about the “Beast”. They said you had to be a plumber to be able to fly it. Everything was hydraulic. I lost a good buddy, who was a hell of a pilot, in field carrier. He took off……….. Well, in the SBD the flaps were mechanically interconnected. They BOTH went down or came up together. They either went together or they didn’t go. As my memory serves me, in the Helldiver they were hydraulic and weren’t interconnected. Any way my buddy took off shooting field carrier. He was just over the trees, slow, flaps down, and the story is one flap flipped up but not the other. Being so low he never had a chance to recover. He was a hell of a good pilot but was low and slow and couldn’t recover when the flap malfunctioned.
I had, later at Grosse Ile, a similar experience. I came over the break, dropped my gear, came around to the 180 and dropped the flaps. And incidentally then flap controls and everything were on the wrong side. You held the stick with your right hand and the throttle was on the left. And you’d have to switch hands with your left on the stick so you could adjust the flaps with your right. Well, not really hot dogging it but I usually stayed fairly close, and just at the 180 I whipped it over and flopped the flaps down and the right one came down but the left one didn’t. Thank God I was at 1000 feet when it happened. It just whipped me almost inverted. I jammed the power to it, hard rudder, and switched hands to snap the flap handle up, and scooped out of it. I think I recovered at about 150 feet or something like that. I could have been another statistic. That was hairy.
Where were you in relationship to the base when you recovered?
I was coming in on 17 so I was over land headed toward the Trenton Channel and the Detroit Edison power plant. I may have been over the golf course. I think this happened to me shortly before we got the F4U-4’s. When we got them, boy, we were had finally arrived. We were finally fighter pilots. We were out of those dive-bombers. And that was when Korea hit. What they did was take our F4U-4’s, the four bladed props—bigger, stronger, better. And they gave us the 3 bladed FG-1D and these were not in such good shape. I guess they were taking them from the fleet.
Then, going ahead, when the Korean War was over we had flights where we could go down and ferry airplanes. And I used to do quite a bit of that. I could do it because I was a factory rep and could make my own schedule.
They would either give you tickets or fly you down like to Miami. Once three of us picked up three F4U’s from Korea that we had lost from Grosse Ile in the first place. And boy they were a mess. First of all you’d go out in the field and they were all greasy and oily and covered in cobwebs. And they got armor plate on the under bellies. He is gone now, but my buddy was leading the flight and we lined up on the runway to take off. Then he started his take off and bingity, bangity, bang, bang, and black smoke everywhere. He turns around and taxies back and then burns it out again and then he finally takes off.
So I take off and then the other guy follows me. We make it into Navy Atlanta to refuel. And we got all that armor plate they added. Now they had 4,000-foot runways or something like that surrounded by hills. Navy Atlanta is called DeKalb Airport now, I think it is a general aviation airport, and the Navy moved over to Dobbins AFB now. So, anyway, I never saw the end of a runway come up so fast in all my life. I had to keep it fast because of all the weight. I was really moving when I turned off at the end. Sort of skidded around I guess. I think they took off all the armor plate once we got them back to Grosse Ile.
After the Corsairs what did you fly?
About 1956 we transitioned into AD’s, which I flew until late 58 or early 59. I was part of an Attack squadron, VA 736. My time in AD’s was fairly uneventful although I did accumulate over 200 hours in them. Shortly after qualifying in type and taking a couple of cruises and many weekends flying the AD, the Navy decided the airplane was well suited for service in Vietnam. Grosse Ile’s Navy Squadrons lost them over a period of time in the mid to late 50’s, I think. The Marines flew AD’s for a while after the Navy units had lost theirs.
What happened to all the personnel that had been assigned to the VA squadrons?
Most of the Squadron personnel were given choices as to assignments. Some transitioned into the VP squadrons and flew P2V’s. Some went to VR units, that flew the R4D’s and R5D’s. I think the majority of them went to the new VS Units that were formed in late 57 and early 58 and flew the S2F’s. A kind of coordinated phasing took place with VA units disbanding and VS units forming. Initially, we had VS 731, VS 732, and VS 733. After a year or two additional VS units were formed.
Obviously you picked a VS squadron because that is where I first met you.
Right! I went with VS 733. Among the Grosse Ile VS squadrons VS733 established itself as an outstanding unit by the end of the 50’s. Consequently in 1961 during the Berlin Crisis we were recalled to active duty. You no doubt remember that as you were recalled with us.
I sure do recall it with mixed feelings. I was proud that I had a role as a station keeper in the ASW training that contributed to the squadrons’ qualification; but upset to learn that one year and one day after being released from active duty to join 733 I was again back on active duty.
Our recall could be a story in and of itself. I won’t bore you with all those events because we lived them together. While on our recall I made Lieutenant Commander. After our release from active duty in 1962 squadron activities were rather routine until our cruise in 1964 to Gitmo.
You’re referring to Guantanamo Bay Cuba.
Correct. We were part of NATO war games involving units from Briton, Canada, Spain, France, and Germany. It was a mixed bag of submarines, surface ships, helo’s, patrol aircraft, and good ole VS 733 along with its’ solid reputation. The war game action was so close to the base (the water is very deep around Cuba) you could stand on the second deck of the hanger and frequently see the ships. Several nights the pilots and many of the ships officers got together at the club for an exchange of logs. It was one of those, “ we got you-no you didn’t” discussions. The skipper of the USS Marlin (non nuke) SST2 gave us a beautify plaque which hung in our ready room until our squadron was decommissioned. It now hangs in my den for safekeeping. If I recall correctly we got an 80% kill ratio in the exercise.
While we were on our annual cruise, this time at Willow Grove ASW Electronic School in 1968 I was promoted to Commander. Some time later, although I was a short-timer at this point, I was still flying and was made Squadron Executive Officer.
My last flight in command was with Mike Glagola, a genuine fun, and nice guy. We took a “Starp” flight. This is an extra flight allowed for navigation training. We flew to Daytona Beach. Of course we had to do some charter fishing. It was really rough on the water and the only reason I didn’t get seasick was pure pride and will power, as I was wearing my navy leather flight jacket. Had I done so, it probably would have made all the local papers. “Naval Aviator gets sea sick on fishing charter”.
I made my last Navy GCA landing in a heavy snowstorm. We were almost at minimums. It was an exciting way to conclude that part of my Navy Career. By this time we were flying out of Selfridge ANGB.
The last years at Grosse Ile were happy ones. But, the handwriting was on the wall as they say. It wasn’t the preferred option for those of us who served. For a few months they flew us to Selfridge in helicopters. Our planes were already there.
When my flying days concluded, I filled a billet as the Ground Training Officer. By then I had spent 1620 hours in the S2F. My retirement was nice, but also a bit sad. “Where did all those years go?” I received a certificate, a beautiful flag and the best wishes of all my friends and shipmates. I had enlisted at 17 and retired officially on my 60th birthday. As I look back over the years; from my first day through today, with all I’ve been given, Grosse Ile will always be # 1 to me. It has been a wonderful privilege to have been part of all this and to be remembered in some small way as part of the NASGI history.
Thank you Bob for your years of service to our country and sharing your story with us!
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Revised: June 30, 2010