Veteran of the Month: Robert M. London

By Milan Eagle Media

Corporal Robert M. London, also known as Mike and Bob, has earned every title his name affords. In September of 1964, he left his hometown of Milan, as Mike, (a school nick name) and entered the United States Marine Corps Boot Camp in San Diego, California. In December of that year, London graduated boot camp with a #1 Expert Rifleman Designation. He was trained as a Gunner on Flamethrowers at Camp Pendleton, California and in March 1965 his ship was Okinawa bound. Just two short months later in May, the ship made a beach landing near Da Nang, Vietnam. Almost from the moment the Marines climbed down nets hanging from the side of the ship and boarded smaller boats to go ashore, he was involved in patrols through villages south of Da Nang. They encountered daily firefights with the Viet Cong. The men dug fox holes in rock beds along the hills and set up perimeters for night security.
While serving as a Battalion Scout with S-2 Section Battalion 9th Marines, the platoon came upon a Vietnamese woman carrying a stretcher with a badly wounded young boy covered with a rug to conceal his shrapnel wounds. Our Marines ordered a helicopter to take the boy to the Da Nang hospital. War is never a pretty picture, but of all the memories to cling to, knowing that a month later they met the wounded boy and his mother, who thanked them for saving his life, has to be a rewarding memory.
In November of 1965, while leading a patrol, London was wounded and flown by helicopter to Da Nang Army Hospital for initial treatment, then transferred to Yokohama, Japan Navy Hospital where he spent the next 3 months recovering. After recovering, he was sent back to Vietnam for another 5-month stint, this time with the 3rd Battalion 9th Marines.
The military then assigned him to Camp Lejeune, NC and Norfolk, VA, Naval Base as their Security Officer. In August of 1967, London was sent back to Nam and served at Khe Sanh during the Tet Offensive and survived one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War. London certainly earned his Purple Heart, Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Combat Action Ribbon and National Defense Medal. His Marine Platoon slept in underground bunkers and used hand dug trenches to protect them from the daily rocket, mortar and artillery attacks. They endured massive Agent Orange spraying covering the area for months during the war; this chemical has affected many of those exposed causing life altering health problems and far reaching side effects.
Corporal London completed his last four months in Vietnam on Security duty. This experience prepared him for civilian life with a career in law enforcement. When he returned home to Michigan after completing his service with the Marine Corps, he was hired as a Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Deputy, retiring after twenty years of duty. It was during this time of his life that his nickname became ‘Bob’. He served in multiple departments over the years and enjoyed all 20 years on the Department. He names his time as Canine Deputy with his partner, german shepherd, Corky as some of his favorite years in the Department.
During the time he served on the Sheriff’s Department, Bob attended the Police Academy and earned an Associate Degree in Criminology and Psychology from Washtenaw County Community College. He was named Outstanding Veteran Police Deputy of the year for Washtenaw County and participated as a sharpshooter on the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department Pistol Team traveling across the nation for competitions. After retiring from the Sheriff’s Department, Bob worked as a salesman for Briarwood Ford, a Driver’s Training Instructor and a Security Officer for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital. Bob enjoys his time volunteering with other Veterans providing service in the VA hospital, convalescent homes and sharing military experiences with youth in schools throughout our area. Bob said he is “proud to honor the past and instill pride, honor and the desire to serve for our future generations”.
Married to his high school sweetheart of 48 years, he and Cathy have five adult children, David, Mark, Robert J, Melissa and Rebecca (deceased). From heartache to overcoming with a triumph, the heart of this Marine and his wife, adopted Rebecca’s daughter, Rilee and are joyfully raising her as their sixth child. They also enjoy their ten grandchildren.
Bob remains a very busy man, as Past Commander of the V.F.W. Post #423 Ann Arbor, current Home Board President, Life Member of Vietnam Veterans Association, Life Member of Disabled American Veterans, Member of American Legion, Member of Purple Heart Association and member of St. Paul United Church of Christ Saline.
When asked, do you believe the military experience would benefit young people today, even in war times, he replied, “Yes- the military teaches good work ethics, develops character, Veteran involvement and leads to accomplishments which enhances their life experiences.”
Bob plans to attend the V.F. W. National Convention in Charlotte, NC. in July and Khe Sanh Veterans Reunion in San Antonio, TX in October. Being a true Marine, he feels that keeping updated and being aware of all veteran information is extremely important. The Convention educates Veterans and their families on pending legislation for Veterans and provides the opportunity for renewing friendships from over the years. He has indeed stayed faithful; “Semper Fi! Oorah!”.

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