Bob Da­nis

Korean War Spy – Ne­whall Res­i­dent

The Signal - - VETERANS - By Bill Reynolds Sig­nal Di­rec­tor of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs

Ed­i­tor’s Note: Bob Da­nis, Korean War Vet­eran and Santa Clarita res­i­dent, died Tues­day, July 25. I was so sad­dened to learn of Bob’s pass­ing. It seems like only yes­ter­day that we sat down and went over his hon­or­able mil­i­tary ser­vice and all of his con­tri­bu­tions to our pa­tri­otic com­mu­nity. In fact last week­end I had left sev­eral phone calls for him hop­ing to sched­ule him to play taps for an im­pend­ing Vet­er­ans event and was shocked to learn the sad news. What a great Amer­i­can and a fine gen­tle­man he was.

In his honor, The Sig­nal is re­run­ning the pro­file we pub­lished last year.

Bob Da­nis was born Sept. 12, 1931, in Detroit, Michi­gan, and at­tended the pres­ti­gious Cass Tech­ni­cal High School grad­u­at­ing in 1948. Af­ter high school, he landed a job with West­ern Union as a rout­ing clerk re­spon­si­ble for tele­gram de­liv­er­ies. A ma­jor por­tion of his du­ties was the daunt­ing task of lo­cat­ing fam­i­lies of WWII sol­diers who fell in Europe and were be­ing re­buried in Amer­ica. Bob al­ways felt a great sense of sat­is­fac­tion when he was able to find those fam­i­lies.

On June 25, 1950, the Korean War, “known as the for­got­ten war,” be­gan when 75,000 North Korean sol­diers stormed across the 38th par­al­lel into the pro-West­ern Repub­lic of Korea. This was the first mil­i­tary ac­tion of the Cold War and by July, Amer­i­can troops en­tered the war on South Korea’s be­half. Amer­i­can of­fi­cials de­ter­mined this was a war against the forces of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nism it­self; it was our first war with bat­tles be­tween jet air­craft.

In March 1951, Bob en­listed in the Air Force. Dur­ing in­duc­tion, he took a bar­rage of in­tel­li­gence ex­am­i­na­tions which he eas­ily passed thus pleas­ing Air Force per­son­nel. Next, he went to Lack­land Air Force Base in San An­to­nio, Texas, for ba­sic train­ing. Fol­low­ing ba­sic, he had ca­reer coun­sel­ing, and thanks to the ad­vice of his brother, Ge­orge, a WWII vet­eran, Bob de­cided to work in in­tel­li­gence if se­lected.

Dur­ing Bob’s ca­reer coun­sel­ing ses­sion, he was asked if he would be in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing Rus­sian Lan­guage School, a four-week course, at Brooks Air Force Base in San An­to­nio. Bob promptly ac­cepted. How­ever, be­fore fin­ish­ing that course, he was asked to at­tend an eight-month course at Yale Univer­sity’s Chi­nese Lan­guage School. Bob thought, “Yale Univer­sity, oh yeah!”

That Chi­nese lan­guage course was in­cred­i­bly in­tense with 60 stu­dents in at­ten­dance; it was a 35-hour work week plus home­work. They were placed in 10-man groups and were di­rectly in­structed to avoid speak­ing English. In the end, 34 stu­dents com­pleted the course with Bob plac­ing third.

Soon, these new in­tel­li­gence spies were sent to Ja­pan and then to Seoul, Korea, re­ceiv­ing top se­cret clear­ances on their way to be­com­ing “ra­dio in­ter­cep­tor spies.” Bob and his col­leagues were tasked to lis­ten to Chi­nese Air Force ra­dio chat­ter to de­ter­mine lo­ca­tions of their bomb­ing mis­sions which en­abled them to alert our ground forces. At one point, Bob was trans­ferred to Cho Do Is­land off the coast of North Korea, north of the 38th Par­al­lel which af­forded great po­ten­tial to clearly in­ter­cept Chi­nese ra­dio trans­mis­sions.

Bob stated: “His unit was cred­ited for sav­ing count­less Amer­i­can and South Korean lives,” but their ex­is­tence was so clan­des­tine that no one re­ally knew about them. In their let­ters home, they couldn’t even re­veal to their fam­i­lies what they were do­ing so they sim­ply wrote that they in­ter­ro­gated pris­on­ers of war.

Bob served 10 months in Korea and was then tasked to se­lect sites for mon­i­tor­ing main­land China ra­dio trans­mis­sions; this sent him to Tai­wan, Taipei and the Philip­pines where spy sta­tions were quickly es­tab­lished. When the Korean War ended in 1953, Bob was re­as­signed to the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency in Wash­ing­ton D.C. where he re­viewed Chi­nese tran­scripts. Bob’s awards in­clude the Good Con­duct Medal, UN Ribbon, Korean Ser­vice, and Pres­i­den­tial Unit Ci­ta­tion. He was hon­or­ably dis­charged March 5, 1955.

The Korean War re­sulted in 36,574 Amer­i­cans killed in ac­tion, 4,579 miss­ing in ac­tion and 103,284 wounded in ac­tion. Clearly, free­dom is not free.

Fol­low­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice, Bob moved to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and he mar­ried Luella Carver on Dec. 11, 1959, and they set­tled in Northridge, un­til he re­lo­cated to Santa Clarita in 2005. Sadly, Luella passed away in 2000; sev­eral years later Bob mar­ried Jeanne Rucker, who was fondly known in their so­cial cir­cles as a “cougar” since she was just a bit older than Bob. I’m guess­ing Jeanne’s vi­va­cious daugh­ter Candye clev­erly ap­plied that nick­name.

Jeanne passed away April 2016, but Bob con­tin­ues his pas­sion play­ing trum­pet in three lo­cal bands. Plus he plays Taps for Friendly Val­ley Vet­er­ans Club’s an­nual Memo­rial Day cer­e­monies. Mean­while, we at SCV Vet­er­ans Memo­rial Inc. are en­tic­ing Bob to jump ship and in­stead play at our Eter­nal Val­ley Memo­rial Day Cer­e­mony. I’m just kid­ding, Chuck Mor­ris.

Bob loves his won­der­ful step­daugh­ter Candye Rucker. He’s very proud to have served his coun­try and he still re­mains in touch with sev­eral of his fel­low spies all around Amer­ica.

Bill Reynolds is one of the “Boys of ’67,” Char­lie Com­pany, 4th/47th, 9th In­fantry Divi­sion and is the di­rec­tor of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs for The Sig­nal.

SCVTV cour­tesy pho­tos

SCVTV cour­tesy photo

Korean War vet­eran Bob Da­nis plays Taps at the Trav­el­ing Viet­nam Memo­rial Wall event at West­field Va­len­cia Town Cen­ter, Sept. 27, 2013.

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