Thursday, May 22, 2008

In Memory of my best friend, Robert Snogles..."On Eternal Patrol"...

This Memorial Day will probably the most emotional and sad Memorial Day I have ever experienced. As I write this, it is Thursday the 22nd of May, and the weather is cold, with gray overcast and rain. It's very fitting to match my mood as my life long best friend, Bob Snogles lay dying in a hospital in Syracuse, NY. He will soon be on Eternal Patrol. He has been fighting a long battle with various health problems since last September, and although a well fought battle, he has a "Do Not Resuscitate" order and will taken off life support and kidney dialysis today and allowed to pass. The doctors have told us that because of the lack of dialysis, he will simply enter into a coma, and then the organs will shut down, and it should be a relatively painless death. The picture above is his old "Boat", the USS Sam Houston (SSBN 609).

I feel a strong need to resurrect and review some old and fond memories of Bob and myself going back to about 1958 or 59 when we first became good friends. We grew up together on Oneida Lake in central upstate New York, and as one would expect, we spent large amounts of time fishing the lake and enjoying all water sports. I can't help but recall those cold Spring nights that we would fish for "bullheads" all night long and then sell our catch to local restaurants the next day. This kept us in spending cash and was a fun way to earn some bucks.

Bob and I were considered tough guys, and very few other young guys messed with us, and those that did, paid a painful price. We knew how to fight and fight well. After we graduated from High School in 1962, I went on to college for a spell, but, in June of 1963, Bob and I joined the US Navy and were designated for Nuclear Submarines.

We stayed together through "boot camp", Submarine School and the Naval Nuclear Power School in Bainbrdge, Maryland, and Saratoga Springs, NY. I recall that while in "Boot Camp" at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, our Company Commander found a letter to Bob from one of his girlfriends. In the letter, she had called him "Snuggy Bear". The CC read the letter aloud to all the Company and he never lived that name down ever again, but it was fitting to his stature and personality. It was while at Bainbridge that Bob met his lovely wife, Joyce, with whom they had two loving children, Stacy and Lee Ann. Bob then went on to serve honorably on the USS Sam Houston, an FBM(Fleet Ballistic Missile) Submarine out of Holy Loch, Scotland, going on several long patrols under the North Sea and Arctic Ice Cap during the "Cold War".

In that we were the adventuresome types, when we left the Navy, I became a Syracuse Police Officer and Bob became a Syracuse Fire Fighter, and both our lives were filled with many more adventures in those careers. It was during Bob's tenure as a Fire Fighter, about 30 years ago, that both his kidneys failed and he needed a kidney transplant. Even after the transplant, he continued on to fight fires and save lives.

Throughout all our lives, we were avid deer hunters and together were responsible for putting quite a large amount of venison on our families plates. Bob was an excellent hunter and I learned much from him. We preferred to hunt with antique/primitive weapons, muzzle-loaders, as this gave us only one shot at the deer, but made it much more challenging and sporting. It also made one a much better hunter.

Fishing, God were do I start? Oneida Lake is known for it's great Walleye fishing, and we certainly put a dent in that population as well. In fact, on one occasion, we took 3rd in a National Walleye Fishing contest together, as well as taking other honors for lesser fishing derby's. The last time we fished together was two years ago and because his health was beginning to fail even then, that was the last time we ever "sore-mouthed" any fish together.

There are those folks we meet throughout life that we just immediately take an instant liking to and feel comfortable around, and Bob was one of those. He was a quiet man who was liked, loved and respected by all who met him. He was an avid golfer, having played in many semi-pro tournaments all across the country over the years. We had both learned to play gold at the young age of 13 while caddying at a local Country Club for "the rich folks", another fun way of making some cash.

We both shot Trap" & Skeet at our local Brideport Rod & Gun Club, a club which he had also been a past president of, as well as having gotten the Nationals Trap competition held at for many years, and still is today.

As I compile this all to brief tribute to my best friend who loved life, served his Country and community well, the tears flow freely, and of this I'm not ashamed. The only other man who has ever walked this earth that I loved so much was my brother. Bob will be gone by the time I publish this as the lack of dialysis and life support will have done it's job, but I take comfort in the fact that he will suffer no more. Somehow, I can't think of a more appropriate time for this posting than on Memorial Day weekend as it just seems so fitting.

I would like to say Thank You to all who prayed for my friend throughout his illness, your thoughts and prayers were felt and appreciated by Bob's family and myself.

So, in remembrence of all those fine Military folks who have gave their live for our great country, and for:

ROBERT SNOGLES, my best friend,


UPDATE: My life long shipmate began his Eternal Patrol at 10:30 PM this date, May 22nd, 2008.