Veterans reunited in Wilsonville after 60 years apart

Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 8:23 PM PST
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CHARBONNEAU Ore. (KPTV) – On this Veteran’s Day two men who served together in the 1960s are celebrating a reunion of sorts.

When Bob Armsby joined the military, he was hoping to go to Paris or Madrid.

“When the orders came through they said all of you guys are going to Guam, I said ‘Where’s Guam?’” Armsby recounted. “I thought it was the end of the world, I thought it was terrible.”

A huge typhoon had destroyed U.S. military facilities on Guam and Bob was on his way to help with the rebuild. There, he ended up working closely with a civil engineer named Howard “Hod” Wells. Hod was a civil engineer, and Bob an architect.

Flash forward some 60 years and Hod is reading his local paper, The Charbonneau Villager when a picture captures his eye.

“I looked there and I said to my wife, ‘There’s Bob Armsby. He’s here someplace in Charbonneau,’” said Wells.

The two hadn’t communicated at all since leaving Guam. Hod was transferred to the defense atomic support agency in new Mexico and spent 20 years in the navy Bob left the military after his three years in Guam, returning to civilian life. There would be a lot of catching up to do for Bob, Hod and Hod’s wife Peggy.

“I invited Hod and Peggy to my apartment and we spent some time going through what we had done all the 60 years we’d been apart,” Armsby said. “I’ve known Hod and Peggy longer than I’ve known anybody including my whole family because my family came into existence after Hod and Peggy were the best man and maid of honor at our wedding.  I think it’s a miracle after 60 years we’re back together.”

In recent years, Hod and his wife Peggy had been going through difficulties that come with moving out of a larger house that’s been home for years and needing to get rid of many of their belongings to move into a small apartment at a retirement community. But Bob’s presence in that community has made all the difference.

“It’s been somewhat of a traumatic experience for the two of us but the friendship of Bob has enhanced our ability to get on with what is the future and to deal with things as they come each day with a positive outlook instead of, ‘wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the old whatever?’” Wells said.

Hod and Bob say while at the retirement community, they’ve found a group of other veterans and get together periodically.