Bob Stewart: A Hero in Our Midst
By Jim Morrell, Former Oregon State Chair
When the RMEF was only 2 years old, Bob Stewart recognized the organization’s potential and signed on as a volunteer for the Central Oregon Chapter.
The first couple of years were challenging. But Bob and the other volunteers worked together, and now, 28 years later, they lead the most efficient chapter in Oregon, and one of the most efficient in the United States! All told, the chapter has raised $2 million for conservation. This wasn’t an accident. It happened because smart people rolled up their sleeves and got the job done.
Bob served as the chapter chairman for seven years, then the assistant chair, mentor and coach for at least that many more. He has been at every banquet, every work party, every ticket selling event for 28 years. Bob has been a Life Member for years, and recently became a Habitat Partner. His leadership efforts also extend to the Outdoor Dream Foundation, where he has helped Oregon RMEF Chapters participate in assisting children with terminal illnesses hunt elk and deer.
As impressive as Bob’s volunteer service is, his service to his country is even more amazing. He was recently selected from a large group of nominees to receive the Semper Gratis Award from the Safari Club International’s Southwest Washington Chapter for his heroic actions during his combat tour in Vietnam. The award is designed to recognize someone who has significantly contributed to a sporting organization after making heroic contributions in a war zone.
Bob approaches his volunteer service with the same energy and commitment that he approached his military service. After being drafted into the Army, he volunteered to attend the elite Army Ranger School, assuring himself a tour in Vietnam upon completion. He was initially assigned as a Squad Leader, then a Platoon Sergeant.
During his tour in Vietnam, Bob was continually in the field, oftentimes engaging the enemy. On August 22, 1969, he and his squad were participating in a ground reconnaissance operation when they came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an entrenched enemy force of unknown size. Without regard for his personal safety, Bob maneuvered into an exposed position in order to set up a defensive perimeter and to direct his men to meet the threat.
Bob led an aggressive assault on the enemy. During the attack, one of the North Vietnamese soldiers detonated a mine, sending shrapnel into everyone nearby and seriously wounding Bob and another soldier. Bob physically picked up the soldier and moved him to a safer location where he could receive medical attention. Although he was also seriously wounded, Bob declined medical attention to help the rest of his platoon. Eventually, they were able to rout the enemy force.
For his heroic actions that fateful day, Bob received a Bronze Star with a Combat “V” for Valor, as well as a Purple Heart for his wounds. During his Vietnam tour, he also earned the Combat Infantry Badge, received a second Purple Heart when he was shot again by an enemy soldier, and earned an Army Commendation Medal.
SCI’s Semper Gratis Award honored Bob’s military service, as well as his commitment to the RMEF, conservation and hunting. As part of the award, he will enjoy a trip fishing for halibut and salmon in southeast Alaska. Well done!!