Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Friday, April 25, 2014

RMEF Volunteer Stewart is a Hero in our Midst

Bob Stewart (right) receives Semper Gratus Award
When the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation was only two years old Bob Stewart recognized the potential for future growth of the organization and he believed in the cause so he signed on as a volunteer in the Central Oregon Chapter.

The first couple of years were challenging but Bob and the other volunteers worked together and now, 28 years later, they have the largest gross and net of any chapter in Oregon and one of the largest of any chapter in the United States! This wasn’t an accident. It happened because smart people saw what needed to be done and rolled up their sleeves and got them done. During this time, one volunteer stood out from the rest, both figuratively and literally and his name is Bob Stewart. Bob was the chapter chairman for seven years, the assistant chair, mentor and coach for at least that many more years. He has been at every banquet, every work party, every ticket selling event and never tires of working to help RMEF achieve its mission. Bob has been a Life Member for years now and recently committed himself even further by becoming a Habitat Partner. During his tenure, the chapter raised $2 million for conservation but Bob’s volunteering doesn’t end there. Bob is an inspirational leader who also supports the Outdoor Dream Foundation where children with terminal illnesses are allowed to hunt trophy deer or elk.

As impressive as Bob’s volunteer service is, his service to his country is even more impressive. The term “hero” is overused by people who don’t really understand that not everyone who goes in the military or enters a war zone is a hero but Bob Stewart is one of our nation’s true heroes. He was recently selected from a large group of nominees to receive the Semper Gratus Award from the SW Washington Chapter of Safari Club International for his heroic actions during his combat tour in Vietnam. The award is designed to recognize someone who has significantly contributed to sporting organization after making heroic contributions in a war zone.

Bob approaches his volunteer service with the same energy and commitment that he approached his military service. After being drafted into the Army, Bob volunteered to attend the elite Army Ranger School and, after successfully completing the school in 1969, he assured himself of a tour in Vietnam. As the only enlisted tabbed Ranger in his Infantry Company, Bob was initially assigned as a Squad Leader then as a Platoon Sergeant.

During his tour in Vietnam, he was almost continually in the field oftentimes engaging the enemy. On August 22, 1969, then Sergeant Bob Stewart and his squad were participating in a ground reconnaissance operation when they came under intense automatic weapons and small arms fire from an entrenched enemy force of unknown size. Without regard for his personal safety, Bob maneuvered into an exposed position in order to set up a defensive perimeter and to direct his men to meet the threat. He led an aggressive assault on the enemy emplacement and, although he was seriously wounded during the assault, he came to the aid of other wounded personnel. One of his men was very close to a North Vietnamese mine when it was detonated by one of the enemy soldiers and the blast sent shrapnel into everyone nearby and seriously wounded the closest soldier as well as Bob. The enemy continued firing on his men with automatic weapons so Bob physically picked up the most seriously wounded soldier and moved him to a safer location where he could receive medical attention. Although Bob was also seriously wounded, he declined medical attention then rallied the rest of his platoon to get back in the fight. They eventually routed the enemy force.

For his heroic actions that fateful day, Bob was awarded a Bronze Star with a Combat “V” for Valor as well as a Purple Heart for his wounds. During his Vietnam tour, he also earned the Combat Infantry Badge, was awarded a second Purple Heart when he was shot by an enemy soldier and he received an Army Commendation Medal.

SCI’s Semper Gratus Award honored Bob’s military and volunteer service. As part of the award, he will enjoy their generous gift allowing him to go fishing for halibut and salmon in southeast Alaska! Well done Bob, we are very proud of you!

Jim Morrell
Former RMEF Oregon Volunteer State Chair

Stewart and a nice mule deer buck

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