World War II veteran from Brown Co. cheated death twice while in the Navy

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. --  A Hoosier veteran of World War II wonders why he survived when so many others did not return home.

100 year old Bob Vollmer of Brown County enlisted in the Navy on October 16, 1940.

"My dad said if we ever have a war, he told my brother and I, he said I don't want war, I don't believe in war, but if there's gotta be one, he told my brother Danny and I, I want you two to be the first ones over the top," said Vollmer

Vollmer ended up cheating death twice. The first time was when he was a machine gunner on top of a mountain on an island in the north Pacific. He slipped and fell while getting his mail.

"And I was rolling and rolling and rolling down the side of that mountain in the snow. I said they'll never find me but I kept working and working," said Vollmer.  He dug himself out hours later.

Later, Vollmer would be moved to help work on ships at sea. 

He and two other sailors were headed to another island when invaders were detected. 

They had to swim for it.

"It was a long way over there. It took us most of the day, there was three of us. One of us didn't make it, we never did know which one it was, don't know if the sharks got him or whether he just drowned," said Vollmer.

He says he thinks often about his brother Danny around Veterans Day. Danny was one of those who didn't make it back home. 

"The guys that gave everything. I was lucky. I lucked out. I've been lucky all my life. I've had some close ones but sometimes it bothers me a little bit, why I came home and they didn't," said Vollmer.

At 100 years old, Bob continues to work for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He has these words of advice for future generations, "The way I look at it is you go down swinging, you just don't stand there. You don't let grass grow on your feet."





Only about 550,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are still alive today.

MORE VETERANS DAY COVERAGE | Federal funding cuts make it tougher to help homeless veterans| Remembering the 28th: Indiana's only African-American Civil War regiment | PHOTOS: Honoring Hoosier veterans



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