Memorial Day is America’s day to remember those who died in service to their country. Last year, I began what I hope will become a tradition, of remembering one of the many who paid “the last full measure” from the Mahoning Valley. In my post from last year, one of the comments remembered Robert Thomas Callan. I thought I would see what I could find and tell a bit of his story.
Robert was born on February 12, 1950, the son of Thomas and Anne Christoff Callan. He and his family were members of St. Dominic’s Church. His sister Nancy described him as “a quality person, so kind and generous and courteous and polite.” Elsewhere, his three sisters wrote: “In life, Bobby taught us to laugh, to ride a bike, to play football and how to open Christmas gifts before Christmas without anyone knowing we already saw our gifts.” He was a Cardinal Mooney graduate. After high school he worked at the Republic Rubber Division of Aeroquip for a year before he was drafted by the Selective Service.
He began his tour of duty in Vietnam on April 14, 1970. He held the rank of Specialist Four and was an Aircraft Maintenance Crewman attached to the 101st Airborne Division, 101st Aviation Battalion, C Company. He hoped to begin a carpentry apprenticeship after completing his tour of duty.
After returning from a leave to Hawaii on December 10, his helicopter crew was on a mission on December 16, 1970 when it came under hostile fire in Thua Thien Province in what was then South Vietnam. He was posted as a door gunner at the time, a vulnerable position. He died of wounds in the subsequent crash of the helicopter, his body being recovered and returned to Youngstown for burial. He lies at rest in Calvary Cemetery.
He was honored in death, being awarded the Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, and Vietnam Campaign Medals. His name appears on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel W6, Line 124. Robert Thomas Callan served with honor and died in that service. He is one of many from the Mahoning Valley who has done so. He, and they are worth honor this Memorial Day.
Who do you remember for their faithful service to country this Memorial Day?
To read other posts in the Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown series, just click “On Youngstown.” Enjoy!