As a young man, Bob Barger saw a Navy recruiting poster in downtown Toledo that changed his life. It showed a guy standing on an F4U Corsair and said, “Join the Navy and get an education.”
“I guess it was good publicity because it sure worked for me,” Barger told Task & Purpose. You know, eventually.
At 96 years old, the former Navy aviator and World War II veteran will finally see the recruiting poster’s promise fulfilled when he graduates from the University of Toledo on May 5. He is believed to be the oldest University of Toledo graduate, according to the university.
“I am now a college graduate looking for a job,” Barger said. “I’ve got a resume out already. “I am on Medicare and I don’t need a pension or anything, so I’d be very cheap labor.”
Barger joined the Navy in 1940 and completed aviation cadet training. During the war, he flew Kingfisher observation planes over the Gulf of Mexico and later became a naval flight instructor. He attended the University of Toledo after the war but he needed to work to support his family, so he left college in 1950 without a bachelor’s degree.
Barger told Task & Purpose that he never expected to get a degree after leaving school, but then he met Haraz Ghanbari, an Army veteran and an officer in the Navy Reserve, who serves as the University of Toledo’s director of military and veteran affairs.
“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know, and a young man by the name of Haraz Ghanbari came through for me,” Barger said.
In 2013, Barger officiated Ghanbari’s promotion to lieutenant and shortly afterward he told Ghanbari that he had never graduated from the University of Toledo.
Ghanbari told Task & Purpose that he asked the university to review Barger’s transcripts and it was determined that Barger had more than enough credits for an associate’s degree, which was not available to students in 1950.
“Bob earned this degree,” Ghanbari said. “It was a simply a matter of me going back into the archives and requesting his transcripts to be reevaluated. It’s just been a tremendous honor to know Bob these last five years and I’m really excited to be at graduation with him. On Saturday, I’ll be escorting him up on the stage to his receive his diploma.”
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."