October 9, 1928 - November 27, 2016
Leander, Texas | Age 88
It all began on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 PM , October 9, 1928. We lived on 4th Street across from the Baptist Church. This day they were having the fall revival. Baby Gammill was born at home, later he was given the name Robert Allan Junior.
Not much is remembered of the first five years, but in the year I was six I went to school at the Central Elementary School. They almost did not let me enroll. They
wanted to have the nurse check me out and I was not going to take any of my clothes off for anyone. Mannan finally convinced me to be checked out. I do not have many memories of elementary school. When I was in the 4th and 5th grade I went to school in the old High School while a new elementary school was built. I do remember being in the rhythm band and beat two sticks together. In the 6th grade we were in the new elementary school. Teachers I remember, Mrs. Leslie, 6th grade, Mrs Leslie (sister) 5th grade, Mrs Pullin, 4th grade. During one summer I was playing on a seesaw in the school yard and drove a splinter up under my big toe nail. I screamed and hollered something terrible. Dr. Kitchens used some forceps to raise my toe nail and then pull out the splinter. When I was 10 years old I accepted Christ as my savior and became a member of the First Baptist Church. I attended church regularly and participated in many of the youth activities.
In 1940 I started Junior High School in the old red brick High School. The teachers I remember from my 7th, 8th, and 9th grades were, Coach Johnson, Coach Mosely, Mrs. Knod, and most of all Miss Prothro. What I remember most was recess when we played games; scrub ball, basketball, touch football, a couple of rough and tumble games, and washers. Wilson Meeks would bring a telephone generator and we would do several shocking actions on unsuspecting people. In 1942 we had an ROTC type activity, Joe Wray was the male Captain and Suzanne Allison was the female Captain. Also this year Miss Protho joined the teaching staff. She had every guy in school under her spell. Other activities were Boy Scouts,Troop 54 which met at Mr. Mac's farm on the Cassatott river, delivering papers, and working for Dad. I was a Life Scout and had all but three Merit Badges for Eagle Rank when girls and Demolays (Charter Member) became center interest. Area kids, Robert Lee Stuart, AJ Jacks, LM Hobson, Edward and Marion Smith, also Susan Moore, Joyce Rogers, and Pat Jones,
hung out on fourth street where we had fun with skates and scooters as well as games. The guys played football and shinny in our back yard. The City Park was a block from our house where we played tennis, basketball, and scrub ball. Most of the guys would go to Bear Creek on the Durham farm and go skinny dipping when the water was warm.
In 1943 was my first year in High School. It was not a very eventful year. In 1944/45 school year we had a football team. Coach Broyles was our coach. We
started practise in August of 1944. I played end and weighed 135 lbs. I played both defense and offense in every quarter but one in the two years I played. Teachers I remember were Mrs. Graves and Mr. Robbins. A fond memory was our noon dance sessions with Jeanne Ralls playing the piano.
This was the period that I began to go out with girls. The ones I remember going steady with were: Nelda Raye, Marilyn, Maxine, Virginna, and Betty. I dated a few
others during High School when I was not going with someone special. In my Junior and Senior year football and basketball were the main interest in my life. In basketball I played first string forward and center. Also, I enjoyed the working on the school paper, our Annual, and Friday night dances in the gym or Legion Hut.
The summer before my Junior year I ran a hamburger joint for my Dad. I worked from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM. During school my work time was minimal. I did help out in the restruant, delivered beer with a little green wagon pulled by a Belgian horse named Doc, hauled pig feed, unloaded beer shipments, and chopped wood.
With the draft looking down my neck I decided to join the Army after I graduated from High School, primarily so I would not get drafted and to get the GI Bill for college. In June of 1946 I went to Little Rock to be inducted into the Army. I was sent to San Antonio, Texas, by train, for processing. Then I was sent, by train, to Ft Belvoir for basic training and specialist training as an electrician in the Corps of Engineers. While at Belvoir I heard about the Airborne Troops who got paid $150 bonus each month for jumping out of airplanes. So I signed up and went to Ft. Benning, GA for training. I completed my training in February 1947 and took leave to go home while enroute to Ft Ord in California from which I would ship out to Japan. I went to Japan on a troop ship with about 3,000 other soldiers and dependents. I was on KP duty for the total trip. What was normally about a one week trip took us more than two weeks. I remember on one particular day when we made a -3 knots. I had never seen such waves in my life. I think just about every soldier was sick most of the trip. I was assigned to a bunk on the C deck which was the lowest deck and the drive shaft went right by my bunk. I stayed up on deck where there was fresh air. It was smelly below deck where all the sick ones stayed. We finally got to Tokyo where we were put on a train to Yokohama to wait for assignment. I was assigned to the 127th Engineering Battalion of the 11th Airborne Division in Sendai, Northern Honshu. We were quartered at Camp Schemelfenig.
We did our army training over and over again, I finally got out of the line work and became Mail Clerk. Had my own private quarters. I got to know Capt. Physioc and Lt. Polansky pretty well and when they were transferred to the Post Utilities I was asked to go with them, which I did. This was in late 1947. After a few months I made Corporal then Sergeant. (It took me 9 months to get the automatic rank of Private First Class.) It was in early 1948 that I was assigned to the Tagajo Dependent Housing where I became the Sgt/major of the Post Utilities section. One of the major chores was to pack up all dependents and send them back to the States in 1949 I continued this assignment until I returned to the States for discharge in 1949. I finally received my discharge in April 1949 at Ft Lewis, WA.
I flew home to Prescott, AR. I worked several jobs during the summer, but the one I'll always remember is peeling bark from pine poles. That was the hardest work I ever did.
In the fall of 49 I enrolled at the University of Arkansas to earn a degree in Electrical Engineering. I pledged Lambda Chi fraternity, however I changed schools before becoming a member. I decided to transfer to Texas Tech in the fall of 50. Many things happened while I was at Tech. I had Gale Rhodes, from Borger, as a roommate for three and one half years. I did him a favor and blind dated a girl so he could go out with her twin sister. That is how I met Gwendolyn Crow and eventually married her. Two of the classmates I remember are Jerry Coker, he went to Vitro Labs , also, and Allen Boyles. While in school I worked as a service station attendant, as a student assistant in the EE lab, and as technican for radio station KSEL. I finished my EE degree there in 1954. We had a busy weekend, there was graduation, baccalaureate, and a wedding in Snyder, TX. After the wedding Gwen and I left for Silver Spring, Maryland where I had a job with Vitro Laboratories. We stopped in Killen and visited a high school classmate of mine, Wayne Dingler, who was working in a drug store there. We stopped by my parents home in Prescott, AR and then onward to Silver Spring, Maryland.
We found an apartment within walking distance of the Lab, which was a converted bowling alley. Initially I worked on the development of a wire guided torpedo, later I worked with the reliability group. As part of this task I was sent to Gitmo to ride ships and record data of equipment failures. Gwen and I packed our belongings in the car and parked it at Paul Jackson's house. We spent about four months at Gitmo just before Castro took over. When we returned we found an apartment in the Takoma Park area, also Gwen was pregnant with Debbie. Dr. Leventhal used the Seven Day Adventist hospital in Takoma Park. Debbie was born March 28, 1955. We attended the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring. I became envolved with Scout Troop they sponsored and severed as Scoutmaster for ten years. Our Troop went camping at least once a month. We had moved to an apartment just off Sligo Creek Parkway after Debbie was born. We were living there when Karen was born, November 12, 1958, at the Seven Day Adventist hospital with Dr. Leventhal attending. At this time I had started working with an acoustic imaging project and Vitro had made two moves ending in their own building on Georgia Avenue. I became envolved with two professional organizations, The Acoustical Society of America and the American Ordanance Association. In 1959 we moved to Twinbrook in Rockville, Maryland.
We joined the Twinbrook Baptist Church, Gwen became teacher of five year olds and I did multi stuff, such as Education Committee Chairman, Sunday School Director, and taught 9th grade boys. Rev. Laney was the pastor. Also, I continued working with the Scouts as Scoutmaster and a trainner with the Capital Area Scoutmaster Training Committee. At work I shifted back into torpedo and acoustic projects and was Project Head on the Mk 37-1 electrical system and field testing of the first units. Theresa was born after we had lived in Twinbrook for a couple of years. Dr. Leventhal delivered her at the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park on February 17, 1962. At work my group became the in house research group and for the next few years my major work was with Vitro in-house research. In 1964 I was on the committee that put on The Acoustical Society Annual Convention. During this time I explored with Dr. McKinney of the Defense Research Labortory at the University of Texas the possibility of a job. In the fall of 1965 I accepted a position at DRL working on mine countermeasures.
I went to Austin in September to start work and find a house. Gwen and family stayed in Rockville until the house was sold and the mover picked up our furniture and other belongings. In October when the moving van finally arrived in Austin we unloaded at 3102 Yellowpine. We lived here for almost twelve years. We soon became members of Allandale Baptist Church. Rev. Larry Nixon was Pastor. Gwen taught 5 year olds and I did other odd jobs and finally took on the sound system operation. I became a Deacon in 1968. I continued the operation of the sound system which became the Audio and TV committee. We got a new Pastor in 1968, Harold O'Chester. We remained members until 1983.
At the Lab I started out working in torpedos and mine countermeasures for Mark Melcher. In 1967 I transferred to the Sonar Research Division. Garland Barnard was the head of the Division. I was the administrator of the division. At one time about half of the Lab was in the Sonar Research Group, I was administrator and during this time the group became the first to have all projects within budget and all reports completed on time.
In 1977 we moved to Cedar Park. We had worked up our own house design and Max Driggers built for us. There was a 2 acre pasture behind the house and yard. Karen kept her horse there. At one time we were keeping four horses for the family. Did I haul a bunch of hay. I soon became envolved with the volunteer fire department which lasted about 7 years when work travel kept me away to much of the time. While with the VFD I became an EMT and handled the rescue van. Later with Virginia Hester I formed the local first responder unit. It served the community until the County EMS set up a station in Cedar Park. I had to drop out when work travel became to much. In 1983 while on a first responder call I passed by the Anderson Mill Baptist Church. To save travel into Austin we joined Anderson Mill where we still go to Church. For several years I did sonar design work on an advanced minehunting sonar.
Later I became a technical consultant to Raytheon in the development of the SQQ-32 sonar. I was on this job over ten years. I made several trips to Europe and had a lot of sea time testing the Sonar. I remained with the SRD until I retired with 26 years of service.
While at the Anderson Mill Baptist Church I served as a Deacon for two terms, was on the finance committee, the building committee, building mantenance committee, and was an usher as well as a counter for the weekly offering. Also, I did some substitute teaching in the adult men's class. Currently my major envolvement is with the Sonshiner group. This past year (2003) we completed 20 years of membership.
My other activities have primarily been with the Cedar Park Kiwanis. Working with the "Little Train" was the most interesting task. I was secretary for six years.
In 2005 we decided that we needed a smaller lot to take care of. We found a place in Leander about 4 miles from Cedar Park. Presently I am active in the Home
Owners Association of the Ridgewood Development. Recently, in 2007 I became envolved in the "Texas Ramp Project". We build ramps to homes of disabled people to allow them access outside of their homes. In 2009 we built 123 ramps. The longest ramp I've worked on was 80 feet.
Family as of 2012: Gwen and I; three daughters: Deborah, Karen, Theresa; five grand kids: Amanda, Travis, Megan, Rachel, Laura; and seven great grand kids; Isaiah, Bella, Matthew, Leah, Mikey, Charlotte and Atlas.