Robert Carl Yocum
By Sir John Reid Hatchporch
Special to The Bulldog
Robert Carl Yocum,University of Redlands student, musician and all around good guy, was killed in June, defending democracy and freedom in Krejhenkotzivahlatz.
"I remember what happened to him as clear as day. I'll never shake that image," says one of his war buddies, Franz Schnapps, who witnessed the tragic event first-hand. "We were sitting there in the trench, in the middle of a particularly bloody and noisy battle...guys were goin' down everywhere....it was chaos. All of a sudden I hear this explosion a few yards away. Robert was sitting there next to me with his clarinet, playing 'Pineapple Pole' over and over. The next thing I knew I heard this thudding sound, like a baseball. I looked down and there was a hand grenade sitting right in front of Robert. Of course, he couldn't see it because the music stand was in the way.
"Well, anyway, I got up and tried to yell at him over all the noise to run like the wind...but there he was...still playing that bloody song over and over. 'Not now! I'm practicing!,' he yelled back at me. 'Rob!!! Grenade!!!,' I shouted. He stopped for a moment to look back at me. 'No, Gilbert and Sullivan, actually,' he shouted. I was about to grab his arm when I realized it was too late...gosh, it all happened so quickly." Franz starts to fight back tears here. "It...it was going to blow any second. I had to leave him behind and save my own life.
"I ran out of the trench and dove into the dirt about fifteen yards away. That's when I heard...the loudest explosion I've ever heard in my life. When I...I looked back towards the trench, I saw...charred sheet music floating in the air above the trench." Franz begins softly weeping here. "I stood up, brushed myself off and crawled back to the trench. But all that was left was...that clarinet."
Franz takes a long pause and stares at the ground. "I constantly think about that happened...it will be imbedded in my memory for the rest of my life. I have injuries that will always remind me of that tragic day." Franz pauses again, and begins sobbing like a baby. "I have...tinnitis in my left ear."
"I'll never forget what a good buddy Robert was to me. Every month, I go and lay a reed on his tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery."
"We can't all be winners, but we can all call ourselves
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