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