Longtime Fallbrook resident Bud Roberds, a 98-year-old World War II veteran, recently enjoyed “a wonderful trip” when he joined 79 other veterans in traveling from San Diego to Washington D.C. – with all expenses paid – courtesy of Honor Flight San Diego.
HFSD is a non-profit branch of the nationwide Honor Flight Network which consists of over 130 independent “hubs” across America. Honor Flight’s mission is “to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.””I was impressed with the organization,” said Roberds. “It was all top-notch.”
Roberds plays the piano at Peking Wok Restaurant in Bonsall – his current schedule has him providing background tunes for diners Tuesday through Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 9 p.m. – and Jim Mendelson, a longtime patron of the restaurant, hooked up Roberds with the people at Honor Flight.
Roberds, who broke his right leg last November when he took a tumble while visiting Peking Wok on an off night, recuperated in time to make the Honor Flight trip the weekend of May 4-6. He was accompanied by his son, Bill.
“Each veteran has a guardian (on the trip), and if you don’t have one, they assign one to you,” said Roberds. “So my son volunteered to be my guardian.”
The American Airlines Honor Flight departed San Diego the morning of May 4 and touched down that afternoon at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
“My first surprise was when we landed there was a group of about 50 people greeting us, saying thanks for your service, bless you and all that kind of stuff,” said Roberds. “Men, women and children. I was really taken by that.”
The group stayed at hotel in Baltimore and enjoyed a welcome dinner. The next morning, the veterans were up early to board a bus to Washington D.C., where they would spend the day touring war memorials and other historic sites. Each veteran was given a wheelchair, which was pushed by their guardian.
The buses carrying the Honor Flight heroes always had the right of way when traveling from one location to the next.
“In D.C., every place the bus went we had a police escort,” said Roberds. “We went through red lights.”
Honor Flight provided special shirts for the veterans to wear and those shirts prompted an outpouring of thanks and good wishes.
“We were at the Lincoln Memorial and people would see us, stop and say, ‘thank you for your service,'” said Roberds, eyes tearing up at the memory. “I get choked up.”
Roberds said the touring lasted all day.
“The World War II Memorial, I was impressed with,” said Roberds. “That was the biggest. Then we saw the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. And we visited the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The Lincoln Memorial…that’s pretty heavy,” said Roberds, his eyes getting moist once again
Upon returning to Baltimore, the group enjoyed dinner at the hotel, recounting the activities of the day.
“Most of the veterans (on the trip) were World War II but we’re kind of running out of those guys,” said Roberds. “Then there was a small bunch from the Korean and a smaller group from the Vietnam.”
Roberds was drafted and joined the U.S. Army in March 1943. He went through basic training at Fort Custer (Michigan) in the Military Escort Guard unit, and his first assignment was guarding German POWs at Fort McClellan (Alabama).
Roberds was transferred to a 40 mm anti-aircraft artillery unit in 1944, went to Europe in December 1944 and entered Germany in February 1945. His unit joined General George Patton’s Third Army when it crossed the Rhine River in March 1945. Roberds’ unit stayed on the west side, protecting the troops while engineers –under heavy fire – installed a pontoon bridge so that tanks could cross.
Roberds’ unit was guarding an airport north of Munich when the German war ended. He stayed in Munich another year as part of the occupation force before returning to the U.S. in March 1946. Roberds was discharged April 5, 1946.
Roberds said the most memorable part of his Honor Flight trip was “that return to San Diego.”
“As we were coming into land (at San Diego International Airport) the pilot told us to look out the window,” said Roberds. “Then we saw all these police cars lined up with their lights on to welcome us home.”
Once in the terminal, the group took an elevator down a level, and when the doors opened the veterans were greeted by a throng of cheering people. Patriotic music played in the background as the veterans and their guardians slowly navigated their way through the crowd, shaking hands on both sides as the procession aisle.
“Bill thought there were at least a thousand people there,” said Roberds. “They were just lined up – men, women and children on both sides. My son was pushing me through and they’re shaking your hand, saying ‘thanks for your service,’ and ‘welcome home to San Diego’. Old people, middle-age, and kids. One little kid gave me a cookie and another little kid handed me a flag and they say, ‘thanks for your service.’
“God almighty,” continued Roberds, the memory causing his eyes to tear up like they did that day. “A lady gave me a tissue. When I was talking to other guys, they said they had tears. It was one of the most amazing group things I’ve been involved with. This really touched me. It was the end (of the trip), but the climax.”
Roberds, a native of San Jacinto, graduated from UCLA even though he didn’t finish his senior year. He was halfway through his senior year when he was drafted.
“My senior year we took midterms and the rule was if you passed your midterms and you went into the service, they give you credit for the rest of the year,” explained Roberds, who took – and passed – his midterms the week before he reported to duty.
Roberds, who as the son of a musician grew up learning to play various instruments, taught music at a school in San Jacinto for nine years before he and his wife, Jewell, moved to Fallbrook in 1956. Roberts was employed as a music teacher by both the Fallbrook Elementary and Fallbrook High School districts for four years before he became full-time at the high school in 1960.
Roberds is a member of the California Retired Teachers Association and a parishioner at St. Peter the Apostle. He has been performing at Peking Wok since 1990 (the restaurant was in Vista back then) and still drives himself to and from work. His mind is razor sharp.
Roberds sometimes is too active for his own good, as was the case in 2007 when, at age 87, he broke his left leg.
“I was putting up Christmas decorations and fell off the roof onto the concrete,” said Roberds with a guilty smile.
Roberds bounced back from that injury, just as he has from his most recent fall, proving the saying, “you can’t keep a good man down.”
My Life……..then and now
Rita Robinson Pankey
Special to the Village News
I came to Fallbrook in the summer of ‘57, from Washington DC in a 28’ travel trailer. My Dad, a Navy officer with 30 years service, had just retired. My folks had always planned to come back near San Diego. They thought Fallbrook was the perfect town.
For three months we lived in a mobile park (it was where Albertson’s parking lot is now! ) until they could find a home to buy. Before Fallbrook, we had also lived in Guam, Hawaii, Florida, and Texas. Now we were finally settling down!
High school days were full and fun. In my senior year, I dreamed I was a nurse and realized that was the profession for me. I graduated from San Diego State with a bachelor of science in nursing. Over a 23 year period, I worked in different hospitals, primarily medical surgical units with my last four years working in rehabilitation at Scripps Encinitas.
Hospital nursing was always exciting and ever changing. Patients come and go and the nurse has the privilege of meeting many interesting people and helping with a vast variety of diseases and conditions.
I met Bill, in the 8th grade. We were just good friends and never dated in high school, but when we reconnected in 1969, romance was in the air and we started dating and married in 1971 in La Jolla. Bill was involved in the business world and became expert in computers.
We were blessed over the years with three wonderful daughters. Life was busy! We had been living in Cardiff for 13 years and were very happy there, but the family ranch here in Fallbrook was beckoning to Bill and it was obvious that he was needed to manage it. That was in 1986. Our daughters would go to the same high school that we attended!
We never thought that we would come back to Fallbrook but here we are and we’ve been here now for 31 years. How time flies! It has been great living in the country. For many years, we had horses on the property and enjoyed many contented hours of riding. That era passed when the grandkids started arriving.
I retired in 1994 to help take care of my parents. Bill is still working hard managing the ranch and his computer company. We love to travel and read and spend time with the family. I am involved in the Angel Shop Thrift Store and have made many life long friends through that organization. It is a wonderful way to meet people and the shop generates money for many local charities.
Fallbrook is a special and beautiful town and it is wonderful to be here. We are especially blessed that all our daughters and grandchildren live nearby. We love to see our six grandchildren often. I count my blessings to be living here with the beauty of the countryside and the wonderful friends who live here.
Thanks for the memories
Marlin D. Vix
Special to the Village News
It is with great pleasure that I think back on the years I lived in Fallbrook, beginning in 1950 as a first grader through 1962 when I graduated from high school. The experiences and friendships of those years were truly the wonder years. To those of you who were living in Fallbrook in the 1950s and 1960s, you will probably agree that it truly was a magical place.
One was never bored. There were adventures to be had, forts to build, and bike crashes to rival those at the Indy 500. In the summer, you could leave home at 8 a.m. without a penny in your pocket, somehow get fed by a friend’s mother, arrive at home before sundown, and your mother somehow knew everything that you had done that day.
After high school, I attended San Jose State, married Cindy, who has been my wife for nearly 50 years, worked at various jobs after graduation, went to Europe for one year and then decided to go to graduate school.
One month before graduation, I received a call from one of my professors asking me to apply for a lectureship for one year. I applied and got the job. That fortuitous call started my family on a path that would begin my teaching career at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where I was a professor in the Agribusiness Department for 37 years.
Cindy and I have been blessed with two independent, delightful children who have spouses that are a gift in our lives. We have five grandchildren, and all of them are energetic and seem to be headed in the right direction.
A few years ago, I decided to take voice lessons from a teacher who had performed with opera companies. Unlike wine, the voice does not improve with age, and I think I was taken on as a student out of pity. Nevertheless, I now sing with great gusto but only my wife gets to be my audience.
I play tennis with little ability but with great energy; ‘play’ is the operative word since I do not compete. I practice and take lessons. The joy of learning and improving is far more gratifying to me than using the score as an indicator of how much fun or frustration I have experienced.
I wish to thank my Fallbrook friends, teammates, classmates, teachers, coaches, parents and siblings for providing me with the encouragement to take chances in life. I cannot imagine a better place to have grown up.
We did it! Another successful backpack packing event is in the books. Many thanks to our intrepid packers, alumni members Nora, Maxine, Carol, Tony, Cathy, Dixie, Barbara (all the way from Florida!), Jerry, Duane, Jim, Jan, and Gary. Special thanks to Nora and Gary, and their daughter, Anita at King’s Stationers, for ordering and delivering the supplies.
Nora is in the final stages of putting our calendar together and showed us preliminary artwork that is sure to make our calendar a best seller once completed. It features local Fallbrook merchants and organizations. Stay tuned for the new, 15 month, calendar available for purchase SOON!
The hard-working Pam Cain at Fallbrook High School’s College and Career Center received two thermal air pots donated by the Fallbrook Alumni Association. They will be used in the new Center located under the library at the school. We put out the word and, once again, our amazing alumni stepped up to make this happen!
Thanks to all who responded…”Once a Warrior Always A Warrior”
Doug Smith…This is quite a film. Shows locations and people of my youth. One of the “actors” was our neighbor and the scene was shot at his house just down the road from ours. The film was directed by Frank Capra, who owned an avocado “ranch” in Fallbrook. The introduction is by none other than Cecil B. DeMille.
Shared from Doug’s Facebook page and thought it was very interesting…