Robert (Bob) Peavey knew he would never join the Army from almost the day he was born in 1947 on New York’s Long Island. Bob graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania in 1965. Coincidently, the guest speaker for the graduating class at this Army ROTC school was then USMC Commandant, General Wallace M. Greene. Bob would be the only one in his graduating class who decided not to go on to college that year. He knew that his draft board would be breathing over his shoulder, but after years of Army ROTC training he decided he would never become a Dog Face. His father was a 2nd Marine Division veteran of Saipan and Tinian who knocked out three Jap tanks with a bazooka on Saipan, blunting a major enemy counterattack; it also made the MOS assignment for his future son all the more ironic. August 16, 1966 found Bob getting off the 0200 bus at MCRD Parris Island robbing the Army of another draftee by a single day.
A week before graduating “The Island” he learned about the strange numbers called MOS and what 1800 meant— tanks or amtracks. Shake & Bakes (as amtracks were called) didn’t appeal to him, besides, being a taxi driver wasn’t his cup of tea; tanks were more to his liking. Upon arrival at the Track Vehicle School in Delmar, California, he told anyone who would listen that he couldn’t swim a lick. His rationale was that it might make him undesirable as an amtracker— and it worked! When confronted that his SRB showed that he had passed drown-proofing in bootcamp, he lied and said that the DI’s wanted everyone to pass so they could look good. He knew he did the right thing when an amtrack sank off Delmar during his tank crewman class. Bob only lied twice while in the Corps, the second time would occur at Con Thien two years later— but that’s another story.
Bob’s tank crewman class was unique in that it was made up of three future Vietnam Tankers Association Board of Directors with John Wear and Garry Hall. Upon graduating, their class was split between Vietnam and the recently activated 5th Tank Battalion in Camp Pendleton. All three future board members were assigned to the new battalion where they continued their friendship.
Bob was in California for 14 months but it was his love of auto racing and Riverside Raceway north of Pendleton where his interest in photography took root. Borrowing a fellow Marine’s Nikon, his lowly E-4 paychecks were often spent on film and developing charges. While with 5th Tanks, he attended NBC School and was in the last day of NCO School when he abruptly mounted out with Bravo Co., 5th Tanks, in February of 1968 to support the 27th Marines outside Da Nang in the Dodge City area. He was a gunner and participated in Operations Allenbrook, Mameluke Thrust & Napoleon Saline. His platoon would later be assigned to support the Korean Marines for three months. When the elements of the 5th Marine Division were sent home in late August of 1968, Bob was transferred to Charlie Co., 3rd Tanks. He finished the last seven months of his tour as a TC and Section Leader with 3rd Tanks. He rotated back to the world in March of 1969 to 2nd Tanks in Camp Lejeune where he was promoted to sergeant the day he checked in. He finished out his enlistment in August of 1969.
While in Vietnam, Bob had applied and been accepted to Rochester Institute of Technology which would start a month after his enlistment ended. His love for photography, discovered in the Marines, led to a Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Photography. Upon leaving school he accepted a position to start a commercial photo studio in Lorain, Ohio, and then moved to a larger photo studio in Rochester, New York and later to an even larger commercial studio in New York City. Much of what he was doing was more business than photographic related so he decided to go back to school for his MBA, again at RIT.
Eastman Kodak Company hired Bob in 1979 while still in school where he still works today as a Manager, Marketing Communications. His love for auto racing never diminished and was realized by Kodak in 1992 making him Director of Motorsports for 3 years. He was fortunate to be in the winner’s circle for the 1994 Daytona 500 with the Kodak Racing Team and has the winner’s ring to prove it!
Bob had been working on a manuscript for five years that was eventually picked up by Zenith Publishing in late 2004. Praying For Slack – A Marine Tank Commander in Vietnam was his telling of the story of Operation Allen Brook and the difference between the two wars being fought in I Corps. One veteran tanker best summed up his book when he said the book should have been titled, “All The Stupid Things One Can Do With a Tank.” At first offended, Bob could only smile and agree— he did do a lot of dumb things with those magnificent machines— but didn’t we all? What do expect when you give an unsupervised 20-year old the ultimate 52-ton off-road vehicle!
Bob currently lives outside Atlanta with his wife Alica who is a Family Nurse Practitioner with over 30 years of E.R. experience. Bob also has two sons, Ian and Douglas who live in Fort Myers, Florida. Bob is an aspiring Ansel Adams and enjoys backpacking throughout the SW United States with a large 8×10 format camera shooting majestic landscapes. He has used Indian guides to get him into the most unusual of locations. With a cost of $25 per exposure, he has learned to be patient and wait for the exact moment when nature and light come together to make the perfect image. While others may be taking pictures over his set up camera, he is often in a lawn chair waiting for the precise moment. He is a firm believer that it is often the second mouse that gets the cheese. He recently had a one-man show of his work in the Atlanta area.
Bob is also knee deep in a 14 month restoration project of the car he ordered when he got back from Vietnam – a 1970 Ford Torino 429, 4-speed. He is bringing it back to factory conditions.
He is currently the Vice President of the USMCVTA as well as the Editor and Publisher of the Sponson Box.