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Who could imagine retiring from the Navy after 30 years and being forced to live like this?

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This guy, everyone called him "Robbie" but his real name was Francis Marion Roberts, he was my dad's best pal forever, they were kids together in China in the 1930s.
We used to go to visit him on his farm every summer. Man, those were fun days!

Robbie and his wife Mary lived right across the street from us in Panama for about four years, they were like second parent's to us.

Robbie was a Warrant Officer. Dad always said "Robbie is smarter than I'll ever be, but he's a man who always wants to tinker, not sit in an office. He's passed up a lot of promotions because he wanted to stay busy with his hands. He could have gotten a lot higher if he had wanted."

They were best of friends, even saw the Elephant together many times. I recall watching them together when I was young. There's was never any of this now days hugging and I love you man stuff, but I could tell those two men had a bond most men will never have.

When Robbie retired he moved back to his wife's family farm in Alabama where he could stay busy and "tinker" with stuff.

I've never known a kinder more loveable couple than these two. Robbie even saved me from drowning at the Officer's Club in Panama. My dad always came home at 4 PM, but one day he didn't, he'd gone to sea, I went looking for him and fell in the pool . . . but that's another story.

Anyway, here's some pics . . . in the first one, can you guess who Robbie the retired navy man is? And which one is me?

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Follow up story on this . . . on one of our visits my dad opened the trunk of our car, he asked Robbie: "Robbie would you please take care of these for me? II don't want want my boys getting their hands on them."

The entire trunk was full of rifles and pistols my dad had picked up over all the years of his war adventures!
I never knew he had them.

Years and years later, 25 after my dad died, my mom called me, told me Robbie was dying and wanted to come say good bye to all of us. She said I should ask him for my dad's guns . . . I sat there all day long and just could not bring myself to ask a dying man if I could have the guns. I know he would have given them to me, but it seemed really crude to ask. I just couldn't do that.
 
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