“The Arny saved my life,” mused Robin Hunt at the close of a lengthy conversation; our first in nearly fifty years.
Reading about our lives has been fun and informative. Since their academic stars shone so brightly I wasn't surprised to discover Bill Quinlan went to med school and Johnny Van became an attorney. OTOH, I didn't anticipate Rob's career choices and since his bio doesn't do him justice I decided to fill in a few gaps.
I can barely recall a time when I didn't know Rob. I knew him to be an artist, an entertainer, Hilltop Lodge host exemplar and owing to his being the son of two of the kindest people to inhabit Planet Earth, a person with a big heart. I recall his interest in art included performance art by way of John Zacherle (AKA Roland)-inspired, neighborhood Shock Theater. I also recall an impish side and had she known him my grandmother from the old country would have, I'm sure, addressed Rob in her thick Welsh accent as Daibando (pet name for little devil) as she did me when I acted up. I'm pretty certain he cooked up a scheme the gang hid from our parents of hitchhiking to Trenton to see Gary US Bonds when “Quarter to Three” topped the charts in June of '61. I recall his being the subject of Frank Manzo's version of sensitivity training and I vividly recall riding shotgun in his blue MGA while attempting to enter the Holland Tunnel via the exit lane for a bit of underage beer drinking. I wasn't surprised to learn he wore a variety of hats but I'll reiterate what I said to Rick Search. “You've got to give me a head's up so I can double my anti-hypertensive,” when he filled me in that Rob morphed into a medic in Vietnam and, ultimately, Senior Master Sergeant USAFR. Two words I never anticipated hearing in tandem were 'Sergeant' and “Hunt.”
After dropping out of Pratt Institute Rob gravitated from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Not your Simon and Garfunkel, Greenwich Village, Feelin' Groovy upbeat Manhattan; more like a Lou Reed, Sweet Jane, East Village-Alphabet City, down and dirty, sketchy edge version. The downward spiral was averted when Rob received his draft notice and departed NYC for a tour in Vietnam as a helicopter-borne (dustoff) medic.
Post discharge Rob made his way to and fell in love with the Northwest where he acquired a Moo U film degree. I hope my wife, also a Montana State alum, doesn't discover I've dissed their alma mater. My purpose after reading his bio was to determine if he and Linda had an MSU film school friend in common. They don't. Given meager Big Sky film-making opportunities Rob drove an 18-wheeler for several years until he resigned himself to life elsewhere. He briefly signed on with George Lucas' studio in San Francisco although he ultimately landed in Southern California and made a career in the Hollywood film industry.
Seeking contact with, I quote, “'regular people like cops and EMTs” in 1984 Rob reupped in the Air Force Reserve. He pinned medic wings back on with active duty deployments to Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom. Rob was promoted to E8 which in the NCO spectrum is the equivalent of a 3-star, lieutenant general. Additionally, with the shrinkage of active duty forces the reserves took on a more integral role in the overall military mission and Rob wound up reporting through Washington via Headquarters AF Surgeon's Office with a Pentagon email address where he became acquainted with the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. Rob retired after twenty-eight years service and he arranged to be discharged in DC on the day his eldest daughter – formerly aircraft mechanic/African missionary -- was sworn into the Navy at Bethesda to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.
Merging a desire to return to the Northwest with interest in an encore career, in 2007 Rob retired from the film industry and– pardon the metaphor mix – used his nest egg to bet the farm and buy a ranch in Ellensburg, Washington where he produces hay and natural beef cattle. Eight years in, and after breathing a sigh of relief, he reports the gamble is paying off.
What can I say in summary? Its been a long, strange trip? I don't think so. The phrase is hackneyed and Jerry bought the big, metaphorical farm. Anyway, most of us have more than just a touch of grey and the Dead closed up shop at Soldier Field a couple weeks back. How about this? Very nicely done, Rob; very nicely done.
One last thought, Senior Master Sergeant. I still have an active license and clinical privileges within the VA system so if you even think about issuing orders to this E3-turned-psychologist I'm gonna interpret it as delusional and generate a 72-hour mental health hold
Here's to old friends!