Local veteran was wounded in Korea
Tells of providing Angel Flights in the area
GENTRY — Though the brutal fighting may have officially ceased on July 27, 1953, that did not keep Bobby Gibbs, 84, a former Gentry resident and current resident of McDonald County (Mo.) from being shot by an enemy soldier during his tour of duty in Korea in the mid-1950s. He still has a scar to show on his leg from the injury.
According to Gibbs, who was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956, there was a ceasefire and soldiers held positions in foxholes all across what is now the demilitarized zone, but there were still incursions, slayings and shootings. After defending his position against several enemy soldiers trying to make their way through a gully to get behind him, Gibbs said he left his foxhole to check on enemies who may have been wounded and not killed during the incursion and was shot in the leg by an enemy soldier from across the line.
Gibbs said he was bandaged up in a mobile Army surgical hospital and then sent to a hospital in Guam. From there he was sent to Fort Meade in Maryland.
Following his recovery, he marched in President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s inaugural parade and served in an honor guard at Arlington Cemetery before spending the remainder of his military service in Germany before the Berlin Wall was built. He said the line between the East and the West was then a patrol road used by military Jeeps.
Though from eastern Colorado, Gibbs said his family moved to Arkansas in 1949, and he graduated from Springdale High School in 1951. After graduation, he went to work on a harvest crew back in Colorado because the money was good and was
with the harvest crew in Conrad, Mont., when a sheriff’s deputy found him and told him he needed to call his mother back home. It was then he learned he had been drafted and needed to hurry back and report for duty.
Gibbs lived for a few years in Gentry and leased an Esso service station for three or four years — up to about 1970, he said. He said he operated heavy equipment and admits he had conflicts with some officials in the city government over equipment on his property and zoning regulations at the time, even mentioning his training and experience with explosives which he said he made known to keep city officials at bay.
He moved to his rural home in McDonald County, between Jane and Noel, in 1970, he said.
As a licensed pilot for 25 years — from 1965 until 1990 when he suffered a heart attack — Gibbs was active in providing Angel Flights, transporting medical patients to hospitals and facilities in places as far away as Denver or Michigan. He said the free service, which was made possible by donations to cover the costs of fuel, would only be called upon several times each year, but that he served as copilot or as pilot when the flights were needed. He said most of the flights were on a Cessna 172. He mentioned flying with Sam Walton on the Angel Flights too.
Though Gibbs has slowed down physically, he loves to talk and reminisce about his work and life in younger years. If he could, he’d likely still be working hard, driving the classic cars and trucks he loved and flying again too.
“I’ve got to live to be 100 years old to go skydiving with my great-grandson,” Gibbs said, explaining that he wants to take his greatgrandson Aden skydiving but Aden has to be 18 in order to go. Gibbs said he hopes to live long enough to be able to take him on his 18th birthday.