Robert F. Starbuck died a hero in Vietnam on February 4, 1967. Only 25, he was a sergeant of an elite RECON Marine detachment holding a hill against overwhelming odds. He was awarded the Silver Star for bravery.
Bob and I were football teammates, high school classmates, and friends. He was very likable and decent. His death must have been shattering for his family. When I learned, much later than 1967, of his death, I pondered what I could do in his memory. Moving back to Walden, I found that our high school, Valley Central, held an annual awards ceremony for members of the athletic teams. I established the Robert F. Starbuck Captain’s Award in his honor, going each year to the captain of the football team, in recognition of Bob’s leadership, courage, strength, and service to our country.
The story of Bob’s last battle is one of those in the book, Honor the Warrior: The United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, by William L. Myers, published in 2000. Mr. Myers dedicates his book to the nearly 15,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps who died in Viet Nam. His dedication includes this excerpt from a poem by Laurence Binyon:
But they shall not grow old
As we who are left grow old.
Age will not weary them nor the years condemn,
But at the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We do remember.
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