Remembering on Memorial Day

BY Jack Boardman

Robert L Boardman circa 1963  Like almost any other kid in my neighborhood in Saint Paul, or anywhere else I suspect, I had one significant hero among many to choose from. For my friends the heroes were sports figures, Mickey Mantle, Duke Snider and Ted Williams were among those attaining hero status.

For me my hero-worship centered on my oldest brother Bob. I have two other brothers, Jim & Billy, but although they were 14 & 12 years older than me, I knew them too well and both were known to tease me without mercy. That was hardly a way to acquire a position in the brain of a very-little brother as “hero.”

I didn't know Bob all that well, he was after all nearly thirty years older and he seldom visited us. But for my five-year-old brain, that was enough. From the very first Sabrejet that flew over the neighborhood during the Korean Conflict, I was hooked on flying and aircraft and learning my brother not only flew such airplanes, but was an air force Lieutenant-Colonel immediately propelled him to hero status.

Robert Lawrence Boardman was born December 3, 1918, the son of Paul Karth & Anna Swendner. On January 26, 1921 after her divorce, Anna married my father who adopted Bob August 2, 1921.

He graduated from Johnson High School on Saint Paul's East Side and went on to the University of Minnesota.

In 1937 he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard's 109th Air Squadron as an aircraft mechanic, and in 1940 was accepted in the Flying Cadets. He received his commission as a second lieutenant on May 30, 1941 and became an instructor in advanced pilot training. During World War II he flew 432 combat hours in a B-25 in the Alaska-Aleutian Theater while assigned to 11th Air Force.

After the war he served in various positions and was promoted to Colonel in 1960. He retired from the air force in August of 1969. He died suddenly at age 51 November 29, 1970 of a massive heart attack. He spent nearly 33 years in service to this country during some of the most dangerous times we have experienced.

Thank you for your service, big brother; rest in peace, you've earned it.

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One Reply to “Remembering on Memorial Day”

  1. Hey :Jack,

    We know a family whose father is lucky to be alive. He was the sole survivor of a road side bomb… his humvee blew to pieces. It exploded under his seat and so he survived.

    I bring him up because it occurs to me that there are two realities: the families that feel the pain of war every day, and the population that is indirectly affected by war (some thinking they aren’t affected at all). We4 all benefit from those that put (or have put) their life on the line for us.

    Thanks for your story.

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