Places of Rest & Remembrance #2 – Robert Colt Weible
Some of the more powerful moments in my family research since 2008 — what I whimsically refer to as “full-contact genealogy” — are when I’ve been able to actually get out to the places my ancestors once lived.
Their churches, their farmsites, the roads they walked and drove, the buildings they worked and ate and played in, their former homes and yes, even their gravesites — all are powerful, tangible proof that these names and faces of the old world once belonged to the physical realm as well.
In short, they lived.
Even those solemn monuments to their time here — names and dates etched in stone, families laid to rest side by side — are a reminder of the things we do that echo through time, and the death we all owe at the close of the journey.
Particularly poignant are the stars and flags and plaques laid at the graves of veterans.
In my visits to cemeteries, tracking and photographing the final resting places of our ancestors, I’ve discovered markers of service in nearly every American conflict, from the Revolutionary and Civil wars through World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
You wonder about the stories, in what circumstances relatives from long ago found themselves as the country once again sounded its call to fight for and preserve our freedom. You wonder about the extraordinary things they saw and lived — the heroic, the horrible, the mundane, the maddening, and the marvelous.
So many of these stories, of course, are forgotten. Lost in the larger fabric of history. And though I wish I was able to ask, and that they were able to answer, maybe it’s enough, even long after these family members have laid down their last, to be thankful. For their service, for their sacrifice, for the fact of their lives, devoted in measures large or small, that helped shape and secure the way of life we know today.
Throughout this month, I’ll share the names and photos and stories I’ve gathered from the deceased veterans in our family.
Robert Colt “Arry” Weible – U.S. Navy Service, 1942-1965
Starting off, my namesake great-uncle, Robert Colt Weible.
We knew him, of course, as Arry.
Oldest brother of Grandma Sue (Weible) Ley, Arry was born in Dover, Ohio to Robert O. and Beatrice (Morgan) Weible. He graduated from Dover High School sometime before 1935, when the Ohio State University yearbook records him as a pledge to Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
The 1940 census records Arry as working about 18 hours per week at the State University in Columbus. His life would change barely two years later following the United States’ entry into World War II. US Navy muster records show that Arry enlisted on Oct. 9, 1942. He became a pilot in the U.S. Naval Reserve.
From there, Ella Metsker Milligan’s 1951 supplement to her The History of Christian Metzger: Founder of an American Family, picks up the story:
He was a pilot in the Naval Air Transport Service during World War II. He was accepted in the Regular U.S. Navy in 1946. He was with the Air Wing II in the Pacific Fleet until recently. At present, he is with Operation Naval Air Station, at Key West, Florida.
By then, Arry had achieved the rank of Lieutenant. A remarkable find from this week illustrates his life of service in the 1950s.
Arry continued to serve with the Navy through Korea and Vietnam, retiring in 1965 having attained the rank of Commander.
He and his wife, Marge, settled down in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he enjoyed the sun and surf until his death in May 2003. One of the highlights of my honeymoon — seriously — was having the honor of visiting my great-uncle for the first time in probably 20 years, a trip made possible by his sister, my grandma Sue Ley, and brother-in-law, Grandpa Bob Ley.