On Sunday, 14 Oct 2007, I received an e-mail as unsolicited contact from a woman identifying herself as Debbie. She wrote to tell me her personal encounter with Robert Garwood back in Okinawa, before he was actually sent to Vietnam. In a follow-up e-mail, Debbie gave me permission to publish her account and her first name. This is what she wrote:
Dear Mr. Charest,
I just wanted to let you know that Bobby Garwood has fooled a lot of people.
I first met him when my father was stationed in Okinawa. He totally fooled my entire family as well as me. My girlfriends and I were on our way to the movies riding a public bus when this guy on the bus started flirting with us. At the time I was almost 14 and very flattered by this older boy paying attention to me. We started talking and he told me that he was visiting his uncle on the island while on break from the University of California. I sure was impressed. To make a story short……………. It turned out that he was born and raised in St. Paul, Indiana and I was from Greensburg Indiana just 15 miles from there. Bob knew several of my cousins back home. The conversation continued and it was as if I had known him forever. Bob ended up going to the movies with me and my friends. I gave him my phone number after the movies and told him that I would like for my family to meet him since he was a boy from back home.
Bob called the next day and with permission from my parents he came over for supper. Bob could charm the stripes off of a zebra and it didn’t take long for the family to accept him with open arms. We spent the entire summer together going to the beach, movies, horseback riding, ball games.. and on several occasions he stayed over sleeping in my brothers room. He was part of the family, and I fell head over heals in love with him. At the end of the summer we were due to return to the states Bob and I talked about a future after he got out of college and I graduated High School. The night before we left the Island, Bob gave me a diamond ring and an address to write to when I got to the states. At no time did I ever know that he was a service man.. This could have gotten my father a delinquency report since I was a minor. I didn’t find out until I wrote to the address Bob gave me in California belonging to his Uncle. Bob’s Uncle wrote back to me and told me that Bob was MIA. I didn’t believe it.. How could I have spend 4 months with this guy and not known he was in the service?? My parents were as shocked as I was.
Then I started to make excuses for him.. telling myself that he had to hide the truth from me so we could be together. I put Bob on a pedestal thinking he had died for his country a brave soldier and he was in fact my first love.
Well life goes on and I met, married and had 2 children during the next 14 years.
I worked at a nursing home with Bob’s step mother and the day we got the news that he was alive and coming home caused a lot of feelings to go crazy. My husband knew all about my first love and was very on edge about me seeing him again. Then everything hit the fan.. the reporters were beating on our door wanting a story, which I refused.. Then while coming out of a grocery store several reporters sapped my picture which was later used in a tabloid stating “Even though she married and bore children by another man, Her love for Bob Garwood is still strong”. Well my mother in law happened to see this tabloid and showed it to my husband. He wasn’t happy. Later that day I got a call from my brother who was by then a Lt. Col. In the marines stationed on Okinawa. Mike was able to visit with Bob on his lay over back to the states. Mike warned me not to talk to him, and to pretend that I didn’t even know him..
A few days later Bob’s brother called and said the family wanted me there to meet Bob when he arrived home. Like a dummy, I went to the gathering.
When I saw Bob, he smiled, and told me that I had grown up. My first question was “why didn’t you tell me that you were in the service” his response was ” If I had, I never would have gotten as far with you, and besides I had a bet with some of the guys.” I slapped him and walked out, hearing him laughing behind me as I left.
Well Bob fell off of the pedestal and broke into a thousand pieces…
In follow-up e-mails, Debbie also revealed:
Ron, without saying it.. Bob was also a Child Molester as I was 13 – 14 and he was 19… This was all fondling..no penetration. Thank God
Disclaimer: I have NOT made any attempt to validate Debbie’s account. I am not attesting that she is who she claims to be, and I am not attesting that her account is true. I take her acount at face value and chose to believe she would not have gone out of her way to contact me unsolicited, and write this account unless she believed it to be the truth.
Her account and follow-up are published here exactly as she wrote me, edited only for formatting to be suitable for an html display.