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From the moment he ambled up behind me two short years ago outside my gym in Washington’s west end, I sensed a force field around him. Here was a real spy, a highly decorated soldier who fought in wildernesses, jumped out of airplanes, wrote novels and military textbooks, sealed business deals, knew presidents and sheiks, advised former astronauts and rained horror down on bad guys. ,
Bob published three spy novels, including one published in 1993 titled "Death in a Promised Land." That was followed by three mysteries built around a pair of Washington, D.C. homicide detectives. Film director Spike Lee has agreed to buy the movie rights to "Death in a Promised Land." It is a modern-day exploration of unanswered questions surrounding the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. ,
Never in our conversations did Bob mention his numerous decorations. Maybe because it would have taken too long. He earned the bronze star, the air medal, the army meritorious service medal, the company infantry badge, the master parachutist badge and the special forces tab. The Republic of Vietnam awarded him the gallantry cross first class. He was awarded the Department of Defense Award for Outstanding Public Service in 2007 and the medal for Distinguished Civilian Service to the United States Army. ,
"The breadth of his national security experience was rare," said Pete Geren, who was Bob’s boss when Geren served as secretary of the army under President George W. Bush and during the early months of the Obama administration. "Few people had experience in intel and on the ground in the field and in counterinsurgency. He knew that side of war." ,
Bob was trained as an engineer, graduating from the University of Florida and subsequently joining the army as a second lieutenant. He dove into covert operations during his first tour of Vietnam as part of a unit that conducted long-range reconnaissance missions along the borders of Laos and Cambodia and other unconventional operations in Southeast Asia. ,
"He could talk about high-level stuff with Harvard PhDs," said Shephard Hill, a longtime friend and colleague. "He was also the only guy at the table with policy wonks who had held a gun, jumped out of an airplane, shot people and crawled through the jungle. He could bring those details to the discussions from a soldier’s level because he had lived it." ,
Bob was understandably distracted that summer day. I noticed a vulnerability for the first time since we had met. I felt terribly sad, but I also was proud to be in the company of such an accomplished person at a most sensitive time in his life. We continued to communicate over the next few months, but the interactions were less frequent. ,
Our final email exchange occurred on Nov. 5, 2021, when I asked Bob how he was feeling and told him he was in my prayers. Following is his reply: "S.A.S., Tom. (Still.Above.Sod.) Stolen from F.B. Morse. The respite increasingly less enjoyable, but always brightened by incoming traffic. Thanks, Bob." ,
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2023 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Quotes displayed in real-time or delayed by at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Factset. Powered and implemented by FactSet Digital Solutions. Legal Statement. Mutual Fund and ETF data provided by Refinitiv Lipper.