Lo­cal vet­eran was wounded in Korea

Tells of pro­vid­ing An­gel Flights in the area

Westside Eagle-Observer - - FRONT PAGE - RANDY MOLL rmoll@nwadg.com

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.

Gibbs

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