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My name is Rick Beggs.
My Dad, Vernon Beggs, served with Bob Ligon in VMB 613 and we met at the Jacksonville Reunion in 2000. All the men of the squadron called him "Arkey," apparently from his roots in Arkansas but you may know more than I on that subject.
He was one of the ones I got to know - my son did, too.
He could talk a long time if primed with just a few questions. He smiled as he talked and laughed at all his failures in life. When I asked him "What was your life's work?" he said that his kids would say that "he was an expert in starting over." It made for an interesting contrast of highs and lows in my mind but he seemed perfectly at peace with it.
These old guys will be missed. I'm grateful to have had them so long. They inspire me, especially the ones I learn about in one or two days at a reunion. Even those I've never met before - they all have remarkable stories that are worthy of repeating and serve as examples for the rest of us.
He seemed to have a close relationship with his children. If he didn't, he talked in a loving way about you all. You are in my prayers.
We found out Tuesday that you had been promoted !
You will be forever in our hearts, and we look forward to joining you someday at the big meeting in the sky. I never had the pleasure to meet any of your children, I hope they knew what a unique, one-of-a-kind, vital, active, positive man you were. Your wit and wisdom will be remembered in the halls of the Cosmopolitan Group forever.
See you soon!
I remember how Bob had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his lips. What a quick mind he had. Bob loved a story and had many to share with me. He was always encouraging to newcomers to A.A. Bob had a strong belief in God. He truly practiced the presence of God in his life. Bob was a good friend and a good mentor to me.
I remember how proud Bob was of his family. He loved his family with all his heart and soul. His grandchildren meant the world to him. Bob prayed for the well being of his family often.
I remember how Bob loved A.A. and how the program had given him a chance for a second life. Bob had a quick mind. He had a fine sense of humor that he often shared with me.
I am grateful to have shared some time in Bob's journey in this life. I loved Bob very much and I will miss him. I will carry the good thoughts of his life with me.
To the Ligon family,
I needed to drop a note of remembrance honoring Bob and his life in AA. I came in to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous two years ago not knowing what to expect. I came in and out for a few months and every time I came in, whether after having just gone "back out" or after having done well for awhile, Bob was always there to greet me with a smile.
What I remember most about Bob is how he welcomed the newcomers to the group. He always made it a point to define what an alcoholic was and I remember the first time he told me. It took me awhile to finally catch on but Bob was always there. Whether it was just comments made during a meeting, hanging out beforehand, or conversations at many dinners afterwards, Bob always had a great perspective on life.
I can't imagine how many people Bob has touched in his life in AA but I know they have fond memories of him. I also know he had so much love for his family and among all the blessings his sobriety gave him, it was a relationship with his family that meant the most to him.
Please know Bob has been in my thoughts and prayers these last couple of months. I offer my greatest sympathy to you all but know (and I hope you do, too) that Bob is in a very welcoming place now. Please know that Bob helped save my life and helped me embark on one I could never have imagined ....
With Warmest Regards and Deepest Sympathy,
To the very end, my father retained his smile and sense of humor.
I remember one of our last visits together. I had flown in from Fort Worth and walked into the V.A. hospital room my dad shared with two other seriously ill elderly vets. Both of these fine men were in an advanced state of dementia and carrying on conversations with imaginary people.
I walked up to my father's bed and asked how he was doing. Dad spoke with difficulty and had to repeat himself twice before I could understand what he was saying.
He said "Come on in - we're having a party!"
I have to smile even now as I remember this...
I appreciate my father's sense of humor and his optimism in the face of difficult circumstances.
Thank you, Dad, for maintaining a successful sobriety for more than 40 years, allowing me to grow up in a home free of alcoholic dysfunction.
Now is the time to remember the best and forget the rest...
As it turned out, it was one in which he flew with your Dad over Ponape in the Caroline Islands. JD was the squadron Radio Chief. He was instructed on one occasion to fly to Ponape and determine why communications were so poor over this island. The squadron had recently lost seven Marines over this island and as such, it was considered to be a very dangerous place. Your Dad was given the mission to fly to Ponape with JD and look for "suspicious activity" on the island while he was there.
Once over Ponape, JD heard your Dad over the aircraft's interphone tell everyone to hang on as he had spotted something that looked "suspicious."Â Your Dad took the aircraft down for a closer look as he had apparently spotted some type of Japanese activity although JD could not see exactly what it was as he was in the back of the aircraft. Your Dad circled around, told everyone to hang on, and then dived on the target he had identified. All of a sudden, there was a large "bang" and the aircraft shook violently. Then JD saw a large amount of smoke coming through the tunnel over the aircraft's bomb bay into the rear of the aircraft.
said he had no idea what had happened, he just hoped that your Dad
and the other two Marines in the front of the aircraft had not been
hit. Then JD felt the aircraft pull out of its dive followed
by your Dad's reassuring voice telling the crew they had just attacked
a target of opportunity with the aircraft's 75mm cannon. The
cannon had been the source of the excitement and the aircraft had
not been hit. The mission then continued and was completed
without further incident.
Dear Stark Ligon and Family:
What a touching tribute your website is to my friend and your father, Bob Ligon. He was my friend over the last 12 years of our sobriety, and especially over the last couple of years, as hwe would call me to take him to meetings with his "buggy" and even to help him out with a thing or two over at Good Shepherd.
We had a mutual admiration society, Bob and me ... I liked what he did in AA and he liked what I did. Once, I asked him to sign my original AA Big Book for me, and he wrote:
"Don, you do good work. Bob L. '64"
I am so very pleased to have been allowed to know him, and I will never forget him. Bob Ligon helped a lot of people, and I believe that if there is any standard of measurement for judgment, that is it .. the people you helped in this life. I told him that once some months ago, and he liked it.
For some years now, I have been writing down really good things that some people say from time to time in AA meetings. Naturally, I have a handful of them from Bob and I wanted to share them with you, your family and anyone else whom you think they would make smile.
Thanks for the experience of knowing your father. We all loved him very much, too, and miss him much.
Don Gold '87
"My God has never punished me. He just left me alone with myself long enough for me to beat the hell out of myself."
"I was so narrow minded I could look through a keyhole with both eyes."
"What we really want is some comfort in our lives. Seems to me the most comfort we can find is by helping other people."
"You taught me that alcoholic thinking was destructive imagination. Sober thinking is constructive thinking."
"This program has taught me how to let me intuition work. My intuition tells me who's coming around the mountain and what they're bringing."
"When things are good, they're always twice as good as they should be. When they're bad, they're not half as bad as they could be. So at any given time, God has 4 to 1 odds on us."
"All of the 3 G's got me. I gave in, gave up, and gave out."
"I want to profit by and learn from other people's mistakes. I won't live long enough to make them all myself."
First of all, thank you so much for your nice, informative letter concerning our good friend, Arky. Before I proceed, let me give you some background as to why we had a close friendship.
My husband, Jim, was in VMB-613 with Arky. He was born in 1917 so he was several years older than your dad. In fact Jim was one of the oldest pilots in their squadron.
Another strong tie - I was in college with your mother, Betty. I did not marry Jim until 1946 so I didn't meet Arky or see Betty until our first reunion in Arizona. What a treat to renew that friendship with Betty after so many years.
Arky was so good about keeping in touch and called us frequently to keep us informed of the squadron guys, especially after Jim's health declined to the point that we couldn't travel. Jim died of lung cancer in August 1996 and Arky continued to keep in touch with me. I last spoke to him shortly after he moved into the retirement home. He seemed content with his situation but mentioned nothing of his medical problems. In fact, I was surprised when you mentioned mini-strokes in 1997. He was always upbeat, talked of his jazz concerts, bridge games, etc.
This Christmas I decided that I would call him rather than send a card. When I dialed the number he had given me, I was told it was no longer in service. I was afraid that things had changed drastically for him and I hoped it didn't mean that he was no longer with us. I called my close friend Lou Feid. At that time she told me that Arky had died but didn't know any details. When she told me that, a special little spark left me as it does whenever I hear of the loss of special friends .. and that seems to be happening with increasing frequency. But I have great memories of each of them and that helps.
I was very proud of Arky's association with AA and the way he handled himself after winning that battle. He was upfront about it but stood the test of being around drinkers at all the reunions .. seemed to have more fun than any of the ones who were imbibing!
When I finished reading your letter all I could think was that he is now where all good Marines go; he has joined Jim and his other VMB-613 buddies. I bet the sea stories are flying!! I am grateful he was our friend and cherish his memory.
Thanks again for writing to all of us and sharing Arky's life with us.
I was very moved by the loving letter sent to VMB-613 members regarding your Dad. My Ted shared all his (Arky's) love of his compatriots during this war, particulary Arky (or Arky-delphia as he'd sometimes call him.)
I'm sorry my husband isn't here to respond personally. We shared many of your Dad's calls - debating politics and hot investments and reminiscing. There was a great bond within that group. One would have thought it was the best of college years of a special fraternity rather than a war.
It appears he left a special legacy in you and your sister.
He and Ted were close. I believe Ted was your father's co-pilot and Bob Cherry was gunner. The three of them have left us with fond memories and are hopefully soaring wherever they are.
Thank you again for including Ted in your thoughtful letter.
Love and best wishes to you and yours,
Dear Ms Ligon,
I am former Techhnical Sgt, Sam Wolfe USMC who served as a Plane Captain (Crew Chief) of several PBJs through the training an operational phases of VMB 613 and was ultimately the Crew Chief of Mike Baker 12 in the Pacific. During the training phases of VMB 613 any Air Crew flew any airplane that was operational and I flew with your father on training flights in my airplane a number of times. Your father was a very gifted pilot who had the unique idiosyncrasy of flying in cowboy boots. I am not saying this because Lt. Ligon was your father but it was my opinion that he was the best pilot in the squadron and one of the most daring of the lot. He was particularly good at flying at low levels but I never felt uncomfortable when he was at the controls. His landings were also very precise with his touchdowns invariably coming right on the numbers at the end of the runway.
For a number of reasons this has been my first visit to the VMB 613 Website. I was very sorry to learn of your fathers passing and your loss.There can not be many of the members of VMB 613 still living. I am 84 years old and was one of the younger ones in the squadron and I thought you might appreciate hearing from some one who knew and flew with your Dad.
I know this will be hard to believe but I wasn't aware of all of
the VMB 613 historical infornation and web sites on the internet
so you can imagine my surprise when, out of curiosity, I entered
the squadron no. into Google while surfing the web a few weeks ago.
Suprise and Duh!!! I wasn't even aware there was a Squadron Association.
Somehow I was not contacted when it was organized or my parents
neglected to forward to me any notificationin in this regard sent
to my home address in Erie, PA. Over the years following my discharge,
while busily finishing my education and raising a family, I gradually
lost contact with my close friends from within the squadron so I
received no information via this source. Quantico, Va is less than
an hour drive from my home in MD and I most assuredly would have
made this past springs convention had I known about it. I intend
to contact the association and join in the near future.
I don't know how I became confused about your Dads hometown since his aerial visit to Arkadelphia when we were stationed In Newport, Arkansas became a squadron legend. Early in our training at Newport and while on a training flight with his air crew your father flew his PBJ to his hometown. Flying at the legal altitude for residential areas your father flew around the town pointing out via intercom to his co-pilot and crew his school house and other significant boyhood haunts. Hearsay has it that he pointed out a church toward the end of his tour and his crew thought that he was going to comment on it's importance to his youth. Instead your Dad supposedly asked his audience, "Looks mighty small down there don't it?" Then after a slight pause he said, " Well it's going to look a mighty lot bigger in just a bit." With that he put the airplane in a dive down to tree top level, flew past the church, and then throwing the plane into a vertical bank flew straight down the center of the main street with the down wing between the store buildings. Someone in town took the plane's number that was painted on the tail and called the Newport Air Base. When your Dad landed and taxied up to the flight line there was the then Major Nevile in his jeep waiting to greet him. As your Dad deplaned the Major informed him that beginning immediately or words to that effect that he would be doing his flying from the right hand seat demoting him on the spot to copilot. As the Major went roaring off your Dad turned to his crew who had heard the excahnge and with a big smile said, "How do you like that. My own Chamber of Commerce turned me in. They done turned their own boy in.".
Some embellishment may have crept into this story but it is essentially true. I personally witnessed the Major's greeting on the flight line but didn't hear what was said and I have no knowledge of what eventually ensued except that your Dad was not a copilot for very long. He was soon right back in the left seat where he belonged.
Booke, I would be happy to talk to you about the squadron and try to answer any questions you might have. After sixty some years my memory may be kind of hazy but I will do the best I can. Please feel free to call me.
Samuel A. Wolfe
Your Dad stopped by to see me on his last trip west. We were good friends and I valued his friendship very much. He was an excellent pilot of good nature, and always a character worth knowing.The last reunion of the pilots of VMB-613 was held in 2004, at that time, if my memory serves, we only had seven pilots present. Two of those have passed away since then. Before we shipped out, Arky had some leave time. He went to Arkansas and brought back a fifth of white lightning of which we made good use. Good times were had by all!! Sorry not to have any photos.
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