Last month at the banquet for the dedication of the Intruder Tribute and the Intruder Association Reunion at the National Naval Air Museum in Pensacola I noticed a man in a wheelchair seated at the table in the corner not far from me. He seemed familiar, and it took me a while to put the aging face to a name, and suddenly it came to me: the man in the wheelchair was Bob Flynn, a Navy veteran who returned to living life to the fullest after being a POW in China during the Viet Nam years.
Bob was a legend. The story is he carried an old bugle in the cockpit of his A-6 and blew charge on guard frequency every time he went feet dry in Viet Nam. I have no doubt the story is true.
When I told the veterans at my table who the man in the wheelchair was every man left his seat and went to shake Bob Flynn’s hand and talk with him.
It was one of those precious moments in life. Even though it had been darn near 40 years since I’d seen Bob he looked at my name tag and remembered flying in the A-6 with me in VA-165 and before that in the TC4C on the way to his hospital checkups in San Diego. I remember letting Bob get in the copilot seat and fly the Tic 4, he’d get wound up telling a story and light up a cigarette, forget he’d lit one, and light another. Two hands on the yoke, a cigarette in the fingers of each hand. We got a good laugh out of that.
He was still the Bob Flynn of old, even though he was in the wheelchair. He said the ravages of a 500 knot ejection had finally caught up with him.
Last week Bob died. Here’s the story by Troy Moon from the Pensacola News Journal. Troy got the story right. We lost a tough, tough man last week. Read it here: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/military/2014/05/16/robert-flynn-pow-dead/9189199/
Damn. Another one gone. Rest in peace, sir.