DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Recognition is something few veterans seek, but sometimes their stories of survival are so remarkable that their loved ones can’t help but share. One such veteran will be honored at Sunday’s Dayton Dragons game during the Veteran Salute.
Robert Looper’s story of resilience starts long before he joined the Marine Corps.
Before he enlisted, he faced his first battle with an armed robbery suspect while working at a Kroger on Christmas Eve in 1948.
The suspect took Looper hostage, and when police responded, he says the suspect and officers exchanged gunfire.
“One of those bullets that were flying around hit me in the side of the head and it knocked me down,” he said.
Little did he know then, it wouldn’t be the only time being held against his will.
Two years later, in 1950, Looper joined the Marine Corps. Within months, Looper was on the ground defending our country in the Korean War.
“There were 200,000 Chinese in the Chosen Reservoir and 15,000 Marines, slightly outnumbered,” Looper reflects. “No way did we think we were going to make it out of there and we found out that we were totally surrounded.”
Unlike many of his fellow Marines, Looper made it out.
His memory of being held hostage soon turned into reality again and his strength was tested when he became a prisoner of war for 17 days.
He says, “I just couldn’t picture myself being in a prison camp, and then afterwards you hear stories like John McCain being a prisoner in Vietnam for five years.”
Looper served four years, taking with him the life lessons he learned along the way. He went to college and had a successful career in insurance.
He got married and shares those stories of survival with his four children – including his daughter Annette, who nominated him for this honor.
While his days of being a recruiter for the Marine Corps ended more than 50 years ago, you would never know that.
“I would tell any 18-year-old kid, male or female, join the Marine Corps,” he says.