Bob Snyder was my best friend in high school. We met as members of the McClellan Cadet Squadron, Civil Air Patrol in Sacramento. We both dreamed of military careers and spoke almost every evening on the phone about CAP and military history. We both became cadet lieutenants. (that’s Bob in his CAP uniform).
Bob was raised by his grandparents in West Sacramento because his parents were out of the picture for some reason I will never understand. He attended James Marshal High School and played football. Summers, he got up before dawn to show up at the hiring lot in Sacramento to board a bus and pick local crops for rotten wages. H could not afford to attend the annual CAP encampments that I enjoyed so much.
During the school year, when he wasn’t at football practice, he volunteered afternoons at the local Air Force recruiting station stuffing envelopes. Bob’s grandparents lived on Social Security so on the money he saved picking produce, Bob went to Delta Community College there in Sacramento in 1966. He studied a new field, computers.He planned to go to San Jose State College and late in our freshman year he went down there for registration. He stumbled into a antiwar protest. This annoyed him so much he went right to a recruiting office and signed up for the Army Airborne. Bob attended basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort Lewis in 1967 and I visited with him there (I was attending college in Seattle safe from the draft). He went on to Noncommissioned Officers Candidate School. Upon graduation he was promoted to Sergeant E-5 – a “Shake and Bake”.
Bob arrived in Viet Nam in November 1968. The Army promised him that as a volunteer he would be in the airborne unit of his choice. The Army instead sent him to the 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, a “straight leg” unit, in the Mekong Delta.
Bob arrived in country in November and was assigned to 2nd Platoon, A Company, 2/60th. His platoon sergeant was Richard W. Carter. The battalion allowed men to become acclimated before going on operations, but Bob volunteered early. His last letter to me is dated November 26, 1968.
Greetings from the front. Well old buddy I am what you call a combat veteran now. I learned what it’s like to be a deer during hunting season. Our AO is the Delta, all rice paddies and mud. You cross the patty and move into the wood line, that woodline is murder. We had six KIA yesterday. The point man was 15 feet from the bunker when the guks opened up. Doc was put in for the CMH for his actions. He was one of the six. The guys feel real bad about it.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. We’re going out on Bushmaster. War isn’t very pretty besides it messes up my sleep. Charlie gets you up all hours of the night with his mortars. Hey Dave, gotta clean my shootin’ iron. Say hi to everyone for me.
P.S.VIETNAM IS HOT SMELLY
THE WATERS BAD
AND THE PEOPLE AREN’T FRIENDLY.
BUT THE GIRLS ARE GOOD LOOKING. WOW.
REMEMBER INFANTRY MOTTO
LUTE – RAPE – PLUNDER
NOT NECESSARILY IN THAT ORDER.
Bob is buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, Califonia. His grandparents, the Careys died in the 1970s and were buried in the same plot since Emmett Carey was a veteran of World War I. While I lived in San Francisco I decorated Bob’s grave on Memorial Day.
I never went into the service. About ten years ago I discovered his battalion’s web site and I posted a query about Bob. After a year or so I got a response and ended up telephoning a vet living in Missouri. He gave me the story about when Bob was killed. I posted a little bio on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website.
The fortieth anniversary of Bob’s death passed last month unnoticed by me until a few weeks ago. The oversight inspired me to make this entry which just might endure in cyberspace as the story of one soldier.
2/24/09 HBO has a film out about heros coming home and the trailer was enough to move me to include the link here.
5/29/18 Bob’s niece Rebecca (born after he was killed) found these snaps in her mother’s things.