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Carl Robert Arvin

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CARL ROBERT ARVIN, who was always known as Bob Arvin, was born in on 19 January 1943, the son of Carl and Dorothy Arvin. He grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan with his parents and his younger brother David. He attended St. John’s Catholic Elementary School and Ypsilanti High School. In elementary school he was a good student, participated in numerous activities and became an Eagle Scout in June,1956.[1]

At Ypsilanti High School, Bob demonstrated the intellect, athletic ability, and leadership qualities, which were the foundation of his subsequent achievements. He participated in numerous high school activities ranging from debating to quarterbacking the football team. An outstanding wrestler, he captured the 154 pound state title in his senior year and captained the wrestling team, which won the Michigan State Championship. Bob was a member of the National Honor Society, and was president of the student council and he was also a class officer. He capped his high school career as valedictorian of his graduating class in June, 1965.[1] His athletic director remembers Bob as “one of the outstanding students and leaders to graduate from Ypsilanti High." Bob’s high school achievements led to several college scholarships, and he was accepted by several colleges including Harvard and Yale. He received an appointment to West Point, the fulfillment of a long-time ambition and his ultimate choice. Bob entered West Point in July, 1961 as a member of the Class of 1965. He quickly established himself as a class leader. At Camp Buckner in the summer of 1962, he was selected as the outstanding Third Classman. While also winning the Triathlon and the Recondo competition, a hand to hand combat pit fight. While maintaining high grades academically, he was involved in a number of extracurricular activities. He became one of the top intercollegiate wrestlers in the nationally competitive East Coast Intercollegiate Association and was named as team captain for the 1964-65 season.[2] His First Class year culminated one of the most outstanding cadet careers in West Point’s proud tradition. Bob’s number one standing in military efficiency and leadership was recognized by his appointment as First Captain and Brigade Commander. As one of his assignments he led the Corps of Cadets in the inauguration parade for President Johnson’s inaugurations. His athletic achievements continued as he led the Army wrestling team to one its best year ever, including a tie with favored Navy. Despite the demands of his First Captaincy and intercollegiate athletic competition, Bob continued his extracurricular activities and represented West Point at numerous conferences and functions across the country. He edited the “HOWITZER,” was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, and was among a group of college students selected to discuss public affairs with President Lyndon Johnson at the White House. While achieving these many honors, Bob considered his service in the Cadet Catholic Chapel as an acolyte and member of the Chapel Choir as among the highlights of his cadet years. Bob graduated 44th out of a class of 596. Bob graduated from West Point in June 1965 and prepared to enter the Army as a second lieutenant in the infantry. Following graduation, he returned to Ypsilanti, renewing friendships, particularly that of his high school girl friend, Merry Lynn Montonye. A proud Ypsilanti citizenry turned out for its traditional 4th of July parade to celebrate and to honor Bob who served as parade marshal. In August 1965 Bob reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, for Airborne and Ranger training. Preparing himself for his assignment to the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. His selection of the 82d Airborne Division as his first assignment was indicative of his desire to serve “up front.” He also felt the Division’s readiness and rapid deployment mission would best meet this need. In the brief span of 23 months’ service in the Division, Bob demonstrated outstanding professional competence and leadership. After a brief stint as a platoon leader and executive officer, he became the youngest company commander in the Division. His lack of experience proved no handicap, however, as Bob earned the admiration of his soldiers and fellow officers through competence, integrity, diligence, and concern for his soldiers’ welfare. During this tour of duty, Bob managed a brief but pleasant interlude in his duties. He returned home to Ypsilanti in July, 1966, and married Merry Lynn Montonye his long-time girlfriend, who was also from Ypsilanti, at a wedding in St. John’s Church. He was selected as aide-de-camp to the Assistant Division Commander. Though brief, Bob’s tour in the Division was one of accomplishment and earmarked him as a leader of great promise.[2] Bob received orders for Vietnam in early 1967, assigning him as an advisor in the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). He was then a First Lieutenant. He reported to his advisory detachment, the 7th Vietnamese Airborne Battalion, in May 1967. The pace and intensity of the war were quickening, thrusting Bob’s unit into combat early in his tour. For combat actions on 5 September 1967 in which he was injured and he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. Following a brief hospitalization, Bob returned to his battalion, which was preparing for combat operations to clear enemy forces from an area threatening a vital air base at Hue-Phu Bai, located in the northernmost province of the Republic of Vietnam. As dusk approached on 8 October 1967, Bob’s unit was completing a sweep of a suspected enemy base when an entrenched enemy regiment was engaged. The intensity of the enemy’s fire pinned down Bob’s unit in an exposed, untenable position. Realizing that a portion of his battalion must maneuver to dislodge the threatening elements of the enemy force, Bob joined the maneuver force to assist and coordinate supporting fires. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he moved about directing supporting fires. In moving forward with his Vietnamese counterpart, Bob was mortally wounded by small arms fire and died on the field of battle. His heroic actions in the battle assisted his battalion in defeating a superior enemy force and were recognized by an award of a second Silver Star.[3] He was posthumously made the rank of Captain. Bob’s body was returned to Ypsilanti to lie in state in St. John’s Church, the first layman to do so in that church. Two days later, a Catholic funeral mass was conducted in the same church. Bob was buried at West Point on 17 October 1967 with military honors. Those in attendance were representative of his life as an accomplished youth, devoted son and husband, outstanding cadet, and young Army Officer with great leadership promise. Mourners included his wife, parents, his brother and other relatives, several classmates, members of the cadet wrestling team, his former Assistant Division Commander in the 82d Airborne Division and the Superintendent of the Academy during a portion of Arvin’s cadet career. Services were conducted by the Rector of the Cadet Catholic Chapel. In a subsequent letter to Arvin’s parents, General William C. Westmoreland, Commander of United States military forces in the Republic of Vietnam, wrote, “He was one of the most outstanding young men I have had the privilege of knowing. The Army has lost one of its future leaders.” Bob received many honors after his death. In June, 2002 the Ypsilanti VFW Post 2408 was renamed the C. Robert Arvin VFW Post to honor Bob. And on February 25, 1989 the Cadet Gym at West Point was rededicated and renamed The Arvin Gymnasium, in honor of Bob Arvin. After that there was a 97 million dollar 495,00 square foot addition made to the West Point Gym complex. It was rededicated on September 9, 2005 as the Arvin Cadet Physical Development Center. This center also added an Arvin Alcove, which is dedicated to Bob and his classmates who died in Vietnam. Twenty-Five members of the class of 1965 died in the Vietnam War. In 2017, the noted documentary film maker, Brian Kruger, made a documentary film about Bob “Where the Brave Fear to Tread” featuring the highlights of Bob’s life. There are also displays about Bob at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum in Ypsilanti, Michigan and at the Michigan Heroes Museum in Frankenmuth, Michigan. Also, his high school wrestling teammate Tino Lambros developed the C. Robert Arvin Educational Fund giving out college scholarships in Bob’s honor. Additionally, a wrestling award in Bob’s name is given annually to an outstanding wrestler at West Point.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nickels, Bill. "Bob Arvin-An Ypsilanti Hero" (PDF). Ypsilanti Historical Society. Retrieved April 4, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Moseley, Chuck. "Carl Robert Arvin". West Point Class of 1965. Retrieved April 3, 2023.
  3. "Carl Robert Arvin". The Wall-USA. Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Retrieved April 6, 2023.

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