What About Bob?

  • During the Great Depression, Bob picked cherries for $0.50 a day to support his family.
  • Fifteen-year-old Bob (6’5”) lied about his age to join the US Army. Sent monthly pay home to his mother.
  • For three years, Bob drilled and trained with infantry and elite Ranger units.
  • Nineteen-year-old Bob landed at “Bloody Omaha” on 06 June 1944.
  • Bob’s battalion suffered a 50% casualty rate that single day.
  • Bob received two Purple Hearts while serving in the European theater.
  • Bob’s battalion liberated the Dachau Concentration Camp on 29 April 1945.
  • Bob’s unit met the Russian Army at the Elbe River on 06 May 1945.
  • Bob was discharged from the US Army on 13 July 1945. Bob was twent-one years old.
  • Bob married in 1946.
  • Bob’s first son was born in 1947.
  • Bob began working at the Roanoke Times (Virginia) in 1947.
  • Bob’s second son was born in 1952.
  • While working full-time, Bob completed his GED and BA utilizing the GI Bill.
  • Bob welcomed three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
  • Bob retired from the Roanoke Times in 1987; exactly 40 years from his start date.
  • Over the next 25 years, Bob shared his story with thousands of school children and organizations throughout the US and Europe. He never accepted fees for his appearances or speeches.
  • Bob escorted President Bill Clinton down Omaha Beach for the 50th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion on 06 June 1994.
  • Bob worked as a technical consultant on Stephen Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”. He donated his pay to funding of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA.
  • Bob (Founder and Chairman of the Board) and President George W. Bush dedicated the National D-Day Memorial on 06 June 2001.
  • Bob published his book “Omaha Beach and Beyond” on 06 June 2007. All proceeds from Bob’s book were donated to the National D-Day Memorial.
  • John Robert “Bob” Slaughter Sr. passed away on 29 May 2012.

Bob shared a story with me back in the early nineties. As an adult, with a wife and kids of my own now, hardly a week passes that I don’t think about that conversation.

Bob worked one job for exactly forty years. He told me he hated every single one of those days. Not the people, but the job, the repetitive labor. You see, Bob was an old school typesetter, a newspaper pressman. I asked him, then why the hell did you stay?

“I made decisions. I made commitments.”

Bob never “followed his dreams”, “chased his passions” or “searched for purpose.” He never debated the merits of work-life balance. Bob was the guy you depended on. From picking cherries in 1937 to speaking with a group of elementary students shortly before his death in 2012, Bob always showed up. Bob knew exactly who he was and what was expected of him. He took care of his family. He supported his friends and neighbors. He led his team at the Roanoke Times.

That was Bob.