Some people say retired Army Lt. Col. Robert E. “Bob” Chisolm is a living legend – an honest-to-goodness war hero.
But the 94-year-old resident of Anthony, N.M., says he just answered his nation’s call when it needed him.
“No, I’m not a war hero,” said Chisolm, who saw combat in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. “The real heroes are those in our national cemeteries.”
During World War II, Chisolm parachuted into combat during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, and later during the Allies’ failed invasion of Nazi-occupied Holland.
He fought during the Battle of the Bulge, which is seen by historians as the beginning of the end for the Nazis. He was wounded three times during WWII.
When Chisolm talks about his wartime experiences, he prefers to talk about the big picture.
“Initially, our country was anti-war (during the start of World War II),” Chisolm said. “That’s a fact. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, we became pro-war. Thank goodness for that. Otherwise, we might be speaking German or Japanese today.”
Chisolm said the most difficult conflict he was involved in was the Vietnam War.
“We didn’t know our enemy in Vietnam,” Chisolm said. “You would be marching in an area and children would be playing in the streets and one would throw a bomb at you.”
Chisolm, who is originally from Dallas, served in the Army from 1942 to 1972. He is one of the first 325 soldiers in Army history to receive the Triple Combat Infantry Badge for having seen action in three wars.
A park in Central El Paso is named after him.
The French government awarded Chisolm the Legion of Honor Award, and he had the status of Knighthood, 1st Degree (Chevalier) bestowed on him for his part in the liberation of France during World War II.
In 2013, he was honored as the national 82nd Airborne Division Association’s Paratrooper of the Year and earlier this year was inducted into its All-American Hall of Fame.
After he left the service, Chisolm settled in the borderland. At one time, he owned about a half dozen retail stores, selling used clothing in Downtown.