Senator Witkos Names Robert E. Roberts Veteran of the Month

May 4, 2015

Simsbury Veteran Honored for Service to our Nation

kevin-witkos-veteran-of-the-month

Simsbury – State Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) named Robert E. Roberts the “Veteran of the Month” this May. Roberts, a Simsbury resident, served during the Vietnam War on a military submarine known as an “undersea boat.” Roberts is also an active community member serving with the local American Legion, Talcott Mountain Music Festival, Knights of Columbus, and Simsbury Memorial Day parades and Veterans’ Day programs.

“Bob Roberts has a great story to tell, not only of past service, but also of current service,” said Senator Witkos. “Even after a veteran is done serving the military, they often continue to serve their communities like Bob does volunteering and spreading a positive message. This month we recognize Engineman Petty Officer 2nd class for his brave service during war times, and his continued service here at home.”

Roberts was born on November 6, 1947 in Enterprise, Oregon. He enlisted in the Navy and served from May 1967 to April 1971. Roberts attended boot camp in San Diego, California, went to Engineman A school at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Chicago, and eventually made his way to the Submarine School in Groton.

After training, Roberts served on the USS Halfbeak (SS 352) where he ran and serviced diesel engines aboard the submarine. As a result of that work, Roberts lost hearing in both ears due to engine room noise.

While Roberts was homeported at New London/Groton, he got to travel the world aboard the Halfbeak. He recalls his time spent as lookout in the Northern Atlantic in particular, explaining that sitting atop the submarine on watch “was beautiful and it was terrifying.”

Roberts’ work earned him many honors including the National Defense Medal, three Navy Good Conduct Medals, Navy Overseas Medal, Navy Sharpshooter Medal, Rifle and Pistol, and a Qualified in Submarine Warfare Dolphins Pin.

Roberts recalled his time on the submarine and emphasized the importance of teamwork during service, especially on a submarine. He spoke highly of those who served alongside him explaining, “You grow to depend on them with your life.”

After service, Roberts moved to Connecticut and started work as a lineman apprentice with Hartford Electric Light Co. one month after discharge from the Navy. He worked his way up to supervisory position with Connecticut Light and Power Co. in the Hartford and Simsbury offices.

Roberts also has a message to share with other veterans. In his interview with Sen. Witkos, Roberts stated: “Veterans are still serving even after they’ve left the uniform. There’s plenty of opportunities out there to serve. Your community needs you!”

Roberts speaks from experience. In his local community Roberts has served as past commander of the American Legion, Past Director of the Talcott Mountain Music Festival, Past Grand Knight in the Knights of Columbus, and has been a longtime joint organizer of Simsbury’s Memorial Day Parades and Veterans Day programs.

Roberts still resides in Simsbury with his wife of 43 years Linda, a teacher. Together the couple has two children, Lisa (age 36) and John (age 32), as well as three grandchildren Kaylee (age 7), Willow (age 4), and Rowan (age 2).

Roberts’ full story and a video interview and photos can be found on senatorwitkos.com and at the following direct link: http://ctsenrepublic.wpengine.com/2015/05/veteran-of-the-month-robert-roberts/#.VUOeiFL3anM.

Senator Witkos’ “Veteran of the Month” program features the stories of local veterans each month through text and video. Each story highlights the veteran’s unique experiences and acts of service. To nominate a local veteran to be a “Veteran of the Month” please contact Christopher Diorio at the CT Senate Republican Office by calling (860) 240-8801 or emailing [email protected]

Photos available on Flickr: https://m.flickr.com/photos/srophotos/sets/72157651842875600/