AFRH-W Veteran Highlight – Robert Horn
By Christine Baldwin, AFRH-W Librarian
Robert Horn was born and raised in Texas. Being from a sharecropper’s family and poor, he was always working to help the family make ends meet. Robert is also proud that he has Comanche roots. And another interesting fact is that his great uncle was the infamous scout and hired gun, Tom Horn.
Robert decided to join the U.S. Navy and at the age of 17 went to Great Lakes, Ill for Boot Camp. He graduated from Electrician Class A School and in the next nine years served on two air craft carriers, one destroyer and was even part of commissioning a cargo ship in Boston, Mass. Then at the age of 26 and after 6 months of intensive training, including learning karate, Robert along with 13 other men were sent to Vietnam. Here he was with the Electronic Warfare Unit Group 1, dealing with monitoring sensors. Robert remembers working in swamp water and mud up to his waist and hanging from helicopters to drop the sensors into the jungle. He tells the story of “planting” a sensor in a tree, knowing that the enemy would try to take it apart and learn its secrets; only to have it blow up on them. Robert was also trained as an active gunman, using the .50-caliber machine gun. In fact, he was a “River Rat,” part of the initial river force. He served aboard “Macleod’s Navy” (nicknamed for the Lieutenant in charge, Kenneth MacLeod III). A critical mission for them was to disrupt the enemy’s supply channels by patrolling the waters. One of the jobs he didn’t care for was working on a submarine tender, which he had to do for several months. Robert was then sent to Norfolk, VA, where he took classes in career counseling, race relations and drug abuse awareness and counseled the military in these areas. Robert retired in 1988 from Charleston, SC.
Robert went back to Texas and his next career was with a rubber company manufacturing parts for oil wells. This company went out of business, but Robert was able to get a job with the Military Sealift Command, working with merchant seamen. After 24 years, he retired again. Robert’s wife of 46 years, Sharon Elizabeth, passed away and he ended up moving from his house and living in a one bedroom apartment. He thought about moving to the Gulfport facility, but with the waiting list, decided to join us instead. Robert is often visited by his nephew and has a sister living in Texas and a brother living in Arkansas.