Bob Sully and Kate

December 20th 2014


Bob Sully and Kate

It was 46 years ago today that this guy pulled me into the rescue helicopter in Laos. I’d been shot down and waited all night in the jungle for him to come along with a smile and a drink of water. Don’t miss judge Kate; she’s not short. It was nice having teenagers like Bob around when you needed them. How would you say thanks if you were me?





80 thoughts on “Bob Sully and Kate

    • What I mean is sometimes no matter how many times you say something it just doesn’t seem to be enough for people to understand. A ‘thank you” doesn’t seem like enough but what else is there to say?

  1. I believe he is considered to be your Angel on that dark night in the jungle. First I would Thank God for him. Say Thank you Bob for the blessing that U came to my rescue and the water is exactly what I needed you were my Angel 🙂 !!!!!

    He needs Relaxation, a massage always helps 🙂

    • Amy is right. Thank God for sending the right man at the right time; and hug Bob like you’ve never hugged before. Words aren’t always necessary.

      We who are your friends through totc blogs Mr. Fenn also send heartfelt thanks to Bob Sully.

      • Bob stayed in the Air Force after his teenage tour in the Vietnam War. He finally retired with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant, the highest grade an enlisted man can attain, and by law, only one percent may hold that rank. After retirement he taught school in California. He is a rare human being, and I am blessed to know him and his wife Kate. f

          • I read a quote about coincidences recently…hmmm…anyways thanks Lisa you’ve made one occur for me. For without your comment I never would have known about this.

            And thanks to Bob and Forrest for all they have both done as well. I don’t think there are any words that can truly explain the appreciation that so many of us now share.

  2. 2013? Hope Bob’s still hale & hearty in 2014. “thanks” can never be given to often. Pick up the phone!

    • Bob is doing very well swimming and cycling most days to stay fit and healthy. And yes he is much taller than I am.

      • Welcome Kate…and thanks much for the update…
        It seems like you make good choices in life..
        Say Hi to Bob for all of us…

  3. “Speed Bumps” is a new category under “Forrest Shares”. In the next few days Forrest will be adding a number of these “photo moments” from his intriguing life.


    • “Speed Bumps” – how appropriate. They are there to remind us to slow down and pay attention to what’s important in life. This one is to remind Forrest of one of the most important things that happened during his service to his country – that is, being rescued by Bob so that he could go back to Peggy and his girls and make a new life for himself outside the military. It seems that a “Thank You” wouldn’t be enough, but when it’s as heartfelt as this one must be, I’m sure it is enough for Bob. Thanks from all of us too Bob! 🙂

  4. Bob, for me and I’m sure the thousands who know Forrest, we thank you for that strong arm of assistance you gave him long ago!

    Thanks for your service to our country!

    This has got to be one of the greatest ways of telling someone THANKS, supported by there friends!

    As usual Forrest, you made a wise choice, thank you, again! 🙂

  5. A drink of water? A certain canteen comes to mind.

    And a smile, but you haven’t stopped smiling since, have you?

    (Seeing as you can’t promise him a kidney. (I apologize in advance if that humor is too dark.))

    • True, Michael…and death is not the end of “life”. Life and true friends are forever. Imagine Forrest dropping by Bob’s mansion 10,000 “years” from now to thank him for saving his life way back when on the mudball called Earth when they used to be mortal. 🙂

  6. Forrest that would be difficult to say, imho just be there for him if he ever needs a friend’s help. Because no matter what material things we would give someone time has a way of depreciating them. Yet a friendship is for life.

    Thanks for sharing this Dal

  7. 46 year old bottle of LaGavulin.with a price it brings back memories when drank and for a few hours soothes all aches n pains.

  8. I would say “When I was lost and alone, you found me. Always and forever, I will never forget. Thank you!” That’s what I would say 🙂

  9. Write him a letter, handwritten, that tells him what you have been able to do since that day. What that gift of life has meant to you and what it has allowed you to accomplish. With the gift of time, how you have been able to make others life’s better. Then make a donation in his name to a children’s hospital like St. Jude’s.

  10. Were you saved only to continue combat missions with untold death and useless destruction to the people of Southeast Asia? That would make you wonder, what good came out of it?

    • Or the gift of life that he may learn from his past and work to make a better world without war.

    • What cynicism!
      I for one don’t wonder about the good that Mr. Fenn has done.
      It makes no sense to think that Forrest isn’t thankful that his life was spared. That has got to be a great motivator for good, that some would never understand.

  11. Forrest,

    As I was getting ready to go to bed last night it dawned on my that it was 46 years ago that you had spent the night alone. I almost sent you an email to say thank you for all you did to protect our country, but I did not want to bring up any bad memories for you. I can see now from your post i was wrong. I was foolish to assume that you might go to bed not remembering what the day had meant to you so many years ago. I thank you and everyone from the Jolly Green Giant that came to your rescue today 46 years ago, for your heroism. I have never had someone save my life, but I can only imagine that just saying thanks does not feel like enough. However, when saving ones life is your job, as it was for the men of the Jolly Green, then I am sure Thanks is enough!!!!

    Fred Y.

  12. I don’t know, maybe you could do the same for us searchers and pull us into your own rescue helicopter and out this jungle of a poem we’ve been shot down in … giving us a smile and drink of water, or maybe ……..just another USEFUL clue? 🙂

  13. A hand written letter telling him just how much it meant to you. Something he can hold in his hand, words that will touch his heart. If you think that isnt enough add a personal gift. We all know you give wonderful gifts.

    Sometimes a personal letter can give a much needed lift to a persons life, even if others arent aware that person needs to hear it. Life has a way of wearing us down bit by bit. Simple honest words of thanks can really make a difference.

  14. Sorry…I was working on the poem.
    It’s so sad to hear the word teenager associated war.
    I’m sure the maturation rate of these teens exceeds average peers.
    Forrest, I couldn’t think how to thank an angel either.
    I can thank him from myself, FOR saving your (s) and I’m sure many other lives, but only with words. Words from the heart- thank you!

  15. He’s a real special guy. Glad I got a chance to meet him. Something unusual about that man, he’s a unique spirit. I’m sure you’ve expressed your gratitude many times over. Although you did have dreams about walking outta that place…and living to tell of your adventures!

  16. He looks like a good guy, a happy guy, a tall guy…lol. I would bet when you thanked him (for I’m sure you did), he probably replied something along these lines, “No thanks are necessary. I was doing what needed to be done.” And what he didn’t say but showed through his actions, “I’m a man of integrity. I do the right things for the right reasons.”

    That, in jy opinion, is a hero. 🙂

  17. When you have an angel save you like Mr. Sully and the others on the Jolly Green, you just say thanks and become friends for life. You all have jobs in the war and his was to save people that were shot down. Yours was to protect us back home. A many thanks to you all! I enjoy my freedom and it is greatly appreciated! Pay it forward.

  18. The two of you go back to where it all began. To relive old memories and at the same time see a rebirth of the country will let you both know all was not in vain.

  19. When someone has gone above and beyond, I believe they should be honored in a way that will live forever. I love the Wounded Warrior program. Perhaps a foundation in his honor through that program.

  20. mr. forrest,at that time you two connected during the rescue.there was a heart to heart ,that can never be broken in memory.theres no such thing as luck,coincidence.God knew who he was going to send.( this man). and God knew you were to be rescued,as it was not your time.nor his.perhaps if you ever see him again,you can tell him,I’ll never forget what you did for me. but what good would it do.he already knows and so do you.some things are just left where it the know he expects nothing from you,he was doing what he was suspose to both will never forget.leave no man will always be thankful to this man,but give the glory to god,for bringing you both home both still had work to do.thats why you are still here,keep passing it forward as always.

  21. Mr Fenn, I believe a firm handshake with a look in the eyes and a Brotherly hug each time you see him is all two like minded cowpokes need. Small gestures mean way more than words.

    • I agree James, a short glance with handshake/hug could say a thousands words or thoughts in a moment. They would know and that is all that counts.

  22. Mr. Fenn,

    I would think a memorial of all the men who served rescuing downed pilots would be a genuine and heartfelt gesture. To let people know how many people have been saved by the gallantry of these men. A beautiful bronze would stand the tests of the bravery of these men!

  23. “How would you say thanks if you were me?”

    Mr. Fenn, I think you just did.

    As you may know I work in military search and rescue. I have flown well over a hundred missions in my career and many were on a rescue helicopter (H46 variant). The most meaningful thank you I ever received was when I lucky enough to witness the return of the distressed individual(s) back to their loved ones. There is no better feeling than knowing you were responsible for such a celebration.

    Next best thing – I loved receiving handmade cards from the children who thanked us for returning their parent. That always made us felt particularly good for reasons I cannot explain. Maybe Kelly and Zoe can send him a handmade card!

    But you know we are just doing our job and that is always reward enough for us. No “thank you” is ever required!
    Merry Christmas!

    The Wolf

  24. Just keeping in touch and remembering old times and how important all of you were to each other at that time should be enough. Sending him a note and a bottle of expensive Whiskey or some favorite of his is a reminder of what you two share. Getting together once or twice a year to hold ceremony of that time and place should be given as a sacred spiritual military thing and never forgotten but honored by you two! Also, remember ,who was lost in those times and how lucky you both still are to be here…… JUST A THOUGHT, MERRY HOLIDAY FORREST…..GOD BLESS US ALL…… Ms. Girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. When we acknowledge some one that had a great impact on our life, we probably need to ask ourselves the question, “What would let them know of my gratitude instead of what would make me feel better.” I get that turned around sometimes.

  26. Thank you to all military people. You all deserve more than a Thank You. I have made cool ties for those in the desert and adaptive clothing for those that came back not being able to wear regular clothes for a while and that does not even seem like enough. I’m ever so happy for my freedom they have provided and I pray for our next leader to respect the military and what they sacrifice in life.

  27. I think a limited edition bronze with all proceeds going to a charity of his choice might be a lasting thank you. Maybe of a bronze chopper with a line going down to a bronze likeness of a(TOTC) chest.

  28. A heart felt card, letter, note or gift? No one but yourself knows that answer. True gratitude is something that is heart felt and shared not necessarily in a materialistic way. Mr. Sulley was there when you needed him, much like you were here for many of us. Our heroes must never by forgotten. Mr Sulley can surely see the many lives you have changed and changed for the better. My only suggestion would be to include two beautiful words. Those two words are words that we hear and use everyday sometimes without even thinking. When you write those two words in closing pause and think deeply and if you are truly thankful they will be joined, joined with a single tear. Once opened and read that single tear will have a friend, a friend for life.
    Thank You

  29. “How would you say thanks if you were me?” ff

    I am grateful for remarkable men like Mr. Sully and you Mr. Fenn who are true American heroes. However, for me this is a curious question coming from a man who is a southern gentlemen raised on good manners and writer of many books who knows perfectly who his audience is and how to express himself.

    Just guessing that you have thanked Bob many times over. If you’re asking those of us in ttotc zone, we’ll tell you we tire of veiled hints. Out of necessity to outfox us, you’ve played the fox in a hound’s costume four years now. Step out of the dog suit and send it to the dry cleaners. Speak to Bob like the trusted friend he is and be specific whether in a letter or in person. Don’t leave him guessing at what you wanted to say.

  30. Forrest, if I were you, on that helicopter I probably would have hugged the bajeebers out of him. Later that day I would have shook his hand with a simple thank you and a look in the eye. You were brothers and knew you would have each others backs as needs arose. You’re both heroes in my mind, both doing your jobs for our country and for all of us unselfishly. Later and forever more I would keep him alive in my heart. through rememberences like you have on here and in your book and I would never let an aniversary go by with out thinking of him and giving him a call. Thank you both for your service and Merry Christmas~~~

  31. Mr. Fenn, these stories give me chills. Why? They remind me of my husbands misfortune in Vietnam. He doesn’t speak of the the war often but when he does, it is very reveling.
    25 years ago, he told me that the sound of a helicopter makes the hair stand up on the back of his neck. Why? When he heard the helicopters coming for him, he knew he was going to live through it. I am so glad he did! I can’t imagine a world without him in it.
    A few years ago, we got a phone call out of the blue. It was a gentleman that my hubby commanded. He had been searching for my hubby for years, to tell him Thank You for all he had done for him. Here it was over 40 years later, but this guy wasn’t going to rest until he found my husband and thanked him. The last time he saw him, they were loading hubby into chopper and he never knew the end result of hubby’s misfortune. Not knowing and the need to say thank you had haunted him all those years.
    I have always known that my husband is a very special person but that phone call made me realize that he was more special than I could ever imagine.
    Thank a Veteran – because Lord knows the government isn’t going to do it properly.

  32. Puppy Love – your sensitivity has surfaced at a good time of year. I think most of us feel the same as you, but we don’t all express it as eloquently as you have. I think you and your husband will have a merry Christmas.

    • Thank you Mr. Fenn.
      Wishing you and Miss Peggy the Merriest Holidays of all!
      Thanks for the contest. You are always a wonderful distraction.

  33. Sir, could you please tell me if you were involved in the Apollo 17 splash down recovery? I’m interested if Forrest was lifted aboard by the same crew. You are all heroes in my book.

  34. It’s almost time for f to send airlift Bob another thank you next month. Did we ever find out how f thanked him last year?

    • pdenver: I created a new thread over on Jenny’s in response to the remarks you posted there over a year ago regarding the bizarre situation of a searcher ending up with a copy of the very rare “The Beat of the Drum and the Whoop of the Dance” book. And not just a first edition of that book, but one that was signed by Forrest and personalized … to Bob Sully and his wife Kate of all people! How in the world would that happen?? I assume Bob and Kate are still alive and well — they were as of December 2014.

      The MW link for those who haven’t seen it:

      • Thank you, zaphod. I’ll see if I can find your thread. I am surprised and a bit puzzled the book no longer belonged to Bob and Kate. For me, I consider them treasures. I took a quick peek to the link you provided and it looks like I was quite chatty on that thread. 🙂

  35. I’d guess Bob truly appreciates the thanks, but at the same time feels he was just doing his job to the best of his abilities when he helped Forrest out of the jam he was in. Thanks, Bob…and thank you Forrest…and thanks to all of the servicemen and women who have risen to tasks and missions of heroiic duty in service to our country.

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