Teachers who made a difference: Bob Dunning 7th Grade Teacher and Hero | Beaufort County Now | This is what I call making a difference. If you are or have ever had a teacher like this, say a private or public thank you if they are still around.

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Bob Dunning in the 101st Airborne
    This is what I call making a difference. If you are or have ever had a teacher like this, say a private or public thank you if they are still around.

    One of my greatest regrets about the old Grammar days at Mary Lin was that I never went back to look up Mr. Dunning (He will never be Bob to me). It is amazing to me that after 58 years or so this one teacher could have made such an impression on us all. He was a WWII veteran and member of the 101st Airborne Division. He made the jump into Normandy and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I started doing research on Mr. Dunning in early 2014. I found quite a few sites on the jump in 1994 as well as some mentions in various books. He was an active veteran and spoke to many classes and groups about his wartime experiences. Many people do not know that he jumped again in Normandy on D-Day plus 50 years in 1994.

    He was 73 years old. If there was ever a poster boy for the Greatest Generation, it was Robert C. Dunning. But there seems to have been millions of these young guys who also fit that bill. I wonder if there are that many from my "ME" generation.

    When I came across Marty's (an old classmate from school) story which was forwarded to me from a mutual friend, I choked back a tear or too. If I had maintained contact with my old classmates, I would have been one of the ones who went back to visit my old 7th Grade Teacher & Hero. During my entire adult life, I would have flashes of memories of Mr. Dunning and his strict no nonsense way of handling us rambunctious kids. As Marty says in the article below, he would take every opportunity to counsel us about life. Some of us at the time took it to be war stories told to enhance his importance, but later came to realize that his passion was to teach us things that could not be found in books.

    During some of my worst moments during my tour of Vietnam, Mr. Dunning memory always popped into my head and somehow helped me to endure.

    Here is the Email from Marty, used with permission:

    OK, on a more serious note, you asked about Bob Dunning. I refer to him as Bob because he requested us to call him Bob. I will try to give you a condensed version for now. About 15 years ago, several of my closest friends, decided to find Mr. Dunning. After all, he had been a childhood hero of ours, even though we were all pretty scared of him when we were in grade school.

    As a seventh grade teacher every year he would find an opportunity to get all the seventh grade boys together and tell us his war stories. These stories never changed. They were the exact same as told to our older brothers in previous years. He didn't have to exaggerate. This story telling session usually took place immediately after some of us got in trouble. We were afraid that we were going to get the "Peace Maker" (very large wooden paddle), but what we got was a couple of hours hearing about boys becoming men and all the sacrifices they made.

    We loved it!

    From what I understand, Bob was raised on a farm outside Kalamazoo, Michigan. He met his future wife, Myra, while stationed at Fort MacPherson; He did much of his training at Toccoa, Ga. He was in the 101st Airborne, Command Company. The series "Band of Brothers" was about guys in the 101st Airborne, Easy Company. There were three Companies in the 101st. . . . There are monuments to all three Companies up in Toccoa, but I can't remember the name of the third one. The Toccoa train station has been turned into a museum honoring the 101st. It's certainly worth visiting.

Bob Dunning in Toccoa, 2003: Above.

    In the early morning darkness of June 6, 1944, Bob and many others of America's finest took off in C47 transports with special D-Day black strips on their wings indicating the invasion, termed project "Overlord". The plan was to drop men behind German lines to disrupt enemy reinforcements among other things. The Germans had purposely flooded the low lands fearing an invasion, although they didn't know exactly when or where. His plane was hit by enemy fire and they had to jump earlier than planned. Bob said that several of the guys were assigned to carry mortar shells, which added considerable weight to a rather short guy. Needless to say, he landed in water over his head and that made for a great story on its own.

    Bob went on the jump again in Holland. Another historic event He told us he ended the war outside Berlin. These guys were all concerned that they would be reassigned to the Pacific theater rather than going home. Thankfully, that war front ended, too. He had many stories, which were told to us as kids. When we became adults, he relayed stories that wouldn't have been appropriate for a young audience. Although many were intense, a few were down right hilarious.

    We went to see Bob and Myra Dunning several times prior to his death. I have a 8x10 picture down in my "Man Cave" of the five of us guys bent over with Bob Dunning standing behind us in the famous "Ready Position" and...........you guessed it, he's got the Peace Maker in his hands. Yep, he kept it all those years. On one of our trips up to his house in Hartwell, Ga. from out of the blue, he asked us to leave our correct contact information because he wanted us to be Pall Bearers at his funeral. Kind of a surprise considering he could have a full military service. We really thought he was kidding. However, several years and visits later we got the call that this American Hero had died. And sure enough four of us served as Pall Bearers, an honor none of us will ever forget. He treasured the many young people he taught and their parents, as well. That was his life, teaching young people to become good citizens.

At Mr. Dunning's house in Hartwell, Georgia, 2003 (from left to right: Bucky, Joel, Bill, Marty, Mr. Dunning with the peachmaker): Above.

    We could write a book about Pfc. Robert C. Dunning and the experiences he relayed, before, during and after the war. One thing is for certain he was the real MAN that John Wayne portrayed. He was a true American Hero, both as a soldier and as an educator. And we loved him and the influence he had on our lives.

    As I said, we could write a book about him. If anyone finds errors in the above, please speak up. But, in closing I have to say visiting with Bob and Myra Dunning in later life was a hoot! I thank God that we had the opportunities to do so.

    While he always made us walk the line, we all respected him and he taught us some great values to live by!! Thanks Marty Price!!

    Here is link to this amazing man's obituary.

    I contacted Marty and asked if I could publish his email. Marty responded with the following. "Good to hear from you. Yes, of course you can use what I wrote about Bob Dunning. Unfortunately, Myra Dunning passed away just a short time ago. There was a short obituary in the Atlanta paper. Myra told us that at around age eighty Bob was experiencing some heart issues. His doctor told them that he would be OK if he would just quiet jumping out of airplanes.

    Seeing that Bob Dunning received the Good Conduct Metal brings a smile to my face after hearing of some of his "adventures" while stationed in England preparing for Operation Overlord. Very funny, indeed. He was young, full of piss and vinegar and obviously high-spirited. I can only imagine what he would have done to us if we had done some of the stuff he did. Yes, we had a lot of laughs listening to Bob tell his "other" wartime stories to us adult students."

    Publisher's note: Join Bobby Tony and others so inspired to discuss the "Teachers We Remember", a new, ongoing, and fully participatory series here on BCN.
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( June 6th, 2019 @ 2:07 pm )
I pray that you are right Bobby Tony.

And, rest in piece Bob Dunning of the 101st Airborne. You lived large just by being a patriot and an exemplary American.
( June 6th, 2019 @ 7:36 am )
When I woke up this morning after a fitful night's sleep, I saw the ceremony at Normandy where some much older men were sitting behind the French and American presidents. It struck me how dedicated most of those men were 75 years ago to leave what was most likely a safe and peaceful life in the United States to storm a beach in Northern France. Bob Dunning passed in 2011 but on June 6, 1944 he was just 23 years old lad who had answered the call. His life and all those young men's life is a testament to what can be accomplished by a group of dedicated, trained and focused people when confronted with a fascist regimes bent on worldwide domination. I am convinced that that strain of dedication still runs through this country notwithstanding the constant barrage of what I hope is a minority of malcontents. I only hope that it won't take another war to preserve what freedoms we are granted by our creator and protected by our constitution. RIP Mr. Dunning you did your part.
( June 6th, 2016 @ 6:52 pm )
Thanks for reposting this I was just thinking about him today. I only live a few miles from Currahee mountain in Toccoa, where he trained with the famous Band of Brothers. Here are some additional pictures of Mr. Dunning on a blog about the 506th.

( May 20th, 2015 @ 3:47 pm )
Bobby Tony can really turn a phrase. I respect the Hell out of that.
( May 20th, 2015 @ 2:06 pm )
Some would say that 18 years made you a professional politician but I would suggest it made you a professional citizen. The more decisions made at the local level the better it should be. Local government must meet budgets and make choices that are not always popular.
( May 20th, 2015 @ 12:21 pm )
We do represent all views, and I have pissed off the Neo Cons as well. As a Libertarian/Conservative, I defend the Constitution, and the 1st Amendment, and I feel everyone should have the right to express themselves providing they tell what they know to be true, and will stand behind that.

I will allow all the space necessary to refute such, and I may climb in to help refute as well. I am on no pedestal here.

I think what pissed off the ultra Liberals, the squishy middlecrats and the RINOs, which are plentiful here, is that I took hard, unpopular stands contrary to popular opinion. So dd fellow Conservative Hood Richardson, who can be rather acerbic on occasion.

Regardless, in hindsight, we were right, and right in a large way, which I think pissed them off even more.

I have always treated governing as a word problem, and most politicians, especially RINOs, don't, or just don't have that certain intellect to comprehend such. In word problems, even for the nebulous science of governing, there is always a better answer.

After a while, it just got easy for me, to be right nearly all the time. Liberals, and I include the squishy middlecrats and the RINOs, don't appreciate this manner of governing, and tend to gravitate toward the poorly informed mob, which is contrary to the pure concept of representative government - at least at the higher level where I operated.

I never have.
( May 20th, 2015 @ 11:22 am )
I'll bet it really chaps them that BCN is allowed to present a alternative view. Conservatarian, I learned that from one of the John Locke post.
( May 20th, 2015 @ 10:04 am )
They grew up fast back then.

My father grew up fast, and prepared me to be a warrior if necessary, and it has carried through my entire life.

In Beaufort County, I have been accused of being a bully by the poorly informed, I mean some really poorly informed, those with their proverbial heads-in-the-sand people - Gene knows who they are - remarkably, some with good educations.

Well, they have Bob Deatherage to blame for all that offended their liberal to moderate sensibilities. He taught me right from wrong early in life, and to always stand up for what I knew to be right, and in this liberal county of Beaufort, I did that, and I have been told that I am the bully.

In this new Society of the Victim, that faulty intellect is so prevalent in the liberal Beaufort County, where the lines of right and wrong are significantly blurred, and not everyone has a grasp of that road map to real absolute truth.

So, to the very poorly informed of Beaufort County, when I stood up for what was right, and I was seen as the bully, I was actually taking on the bullies as I have all my life, and you have Bob Deatherage, a World II infantry man, and a sergeant at 19 years old to blame for all my actions as a 5 term county commissioner - 18 years of it.

I will always stand for what is right, which is almost always what is smart, and I will do it to my last dying day. I do it to honor my father. I know what made him proud, and it is the least I can do for a man that went to war, a horrible war, at 18 years old.

And one more thing, my father thought quite well of my fellow commissioner Hood Richardson. I guess it is just way we Deatherages roll.

Bob Deatherage, like Bob Dunning was a teacher, at least to me. I will always value that.
( May 20th, 2015 @ 9:07 am )
In 1957, it was not rare to have teachers who had served in World War II. Bob Dunning was only 36 years old when I was in the 7th Grade that year. Most of them had no problem telling about their wartime experiences. That could not be said of a good many Vietnam veterans.
One of his stories was that during the Normandy jump, he landed in the marsh and sank to the bottom. He had to get out of his gear to keep from drowning. He then went back down to get it several times.
I had a similar experience 24 years after his experience when I got off a Huey in a flooded rice paddy. I landed in a bomb crater that was filled with water. Later I learned how to judge the depth by the rotor ripples on the water. My jump was only about 4 feet.
“Why would anyone jump out of perfectly good airplane?” The question is often asked of paratroopers. The answer is typical Combat Humor; “Because you make a smaller target.” The other typical inter-unit rivalry is “Only two thinks fall from the Sky, One is bird SH#T, I forgot what the other was but it is pretty much the same.”
Boy I wish someone had recorded his stories. In addition to being interesting, they illustrated what a young man can endure with the proper training and discipline. When you think you are all used up, there is always more in the tank. It just takes a little prodding. "More Drill Sargent"
( May 20th, 2015 @ 8:07 am )
I was most happy to put this post together, and I thank Bobby Tony for all his good work to make that possible.

Men like Bob Dunning are what have made this nation great. I pray he will emulated by others, those that serve, but, more importantly, by those that do not serve, and must realize that it is their challenge to give back to this nation that nurtures them and protects them, as Bob Dunning did, and when that may no longer be possible, make it possible.

Teachers who made a difference Teachers We Remember, War Stories, Individual History, Educating our People, A Historical Perspective, Living Growing up without a Father - Find a Teacher


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