Sergeant E5 Robert Lamarr Bryan was born on October 18, 1949 to Riley and Vera Arlene Bryan. He had two older brothers Larry and Roger, an older sister Ginger and a twin sister Rebecca. When Robert was four weeks old, his parents took the twins to northern Michigan deer hunting for two weeks because they were too young to be left behind. Perhaps this partially explains why Robert grew up adventurous and loving the outdoors. Robert’s parents lived on a farm near Colon, which is a small community of 1,000 people in southwestern Michigan. When each child reached a certain age, they got volunteered to milk the cows and help bale hay. Many a hot summer day ended down at their favorite swimming hole. The family went on numerous camping and fishing trips to northern Michigan and Minnesota. Robert was fortunate to have his Grandma living just next door and she would be the first person packed and ready to go on these family vacations. Robert was a happy, fun loving person and developed a great sense of humor. He attended Colon Community Schools. If you were a blonde, you stood a much better chance of getting a date with Robert. He graduated from Colon High School in 1967 winning the Most Valuable Player trophy for the varsity baseball team. Like his father he was a talented baseball player. Robert met his military obligations head on by enlisting in the Army in January I 968. The family appreciated his bravery in such perilous times. Robert came home for a visit after completing his first tour of combat in Vietnam and informed the family he planned to return for a second tour. Family members couldn’t understand why he would volunteer for another tour, but he said, “They need me” He certainly was a man of dreams, passion, strength and loyalty.
Robert Bryan commenced his tour in Vietnam on 14 Oct 1968 serving with Co A 4/47th Inf, 9th Inf Div as an indirect fire crewman on an 81mm mortar crew. He then served with HHC 4/47THInf, Co A 3/39th Inf, Co F 2/60th and Co A 2/60th, 9th Inf Div. Having volunteered for Co E (Ranger) 75th Inf 3/9th Inf Div. Robert joined the company of Rangers in Tan An, Long An Province in Nov. 1969 and became a team member on an Airborne Ranger Team engaging in combat operations against hostile forces in the Mekong Delta. Robert came to the Ranger Company with combat experience and skills, having been awarded his Combat Infantryman Badge in 1968. During his time in the Ranger Company Robert exhibited exceptional leadership and was a tenacious Warrior who gained the respect of his comrades. Robert quickly adapted to unconventional warfare tactics and gained a reputation as an aggressive and innovative Team Leader both on land and on water. Having been decorated for bravery on several occasions with the Army Commendation Medal for valor and the Bronze Star Medal for heroism as well as having received the Purple Heart for wounds, he would on the 30th of April receive the Silver Star for Gallantry in action. The circumstances of the action leading to this award are as follows: While serving as Team Leaderl-70n an overnight ambush operation assisted by U.S. Navy Patrol Boats. Sergeant Bryan positioned a three man element of the team about 75 meters from the shore, leaving the remaining members in the boat. Spotting approximately five enemy soldiers 200 meters from his location, Sgt Bryan immediately exposed himself to initiate contact with the enemy, eliminating one instantly. Sergeant Bryan while leading his men through the intense hostile fire heard someone whistle. Again spotting another enemy soldier twenty meters from his position, he exposed himself to hurl a grenade at the insurgent, eliminating him. Sergeant Bryan then directed his team back to the boat. Upon reaching the craft, two enemy sampans were observed on the river coming toward them. As the insurgents initiated contact, Sergeant Bryan once again exposed himself to the enemy fusillade to direct the fire of his team.
The four enemy personnel aboard the sampans were eliminated. Later, while sweeping the contact area, the team again received intense fire from an enemy soldier concealed in the nipe palm within ten meters of the ranger team. Reacting instantly to the critical danger, Sergeant Bryan charged forward and eliminated the insurgent at point blank range with rifle fire. Sergeant Bryan’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.
On 11 June 1970 Sergeant Bryan was again to be honored with a second Silver Star for Gallantry. in action. The details of this action are as follows: Sergeant Bryan distinguished himself by heroism in connection with ground operations against a hostile force while serving as a Team Leader with Co E (Ranger) 75th Inf3/9th Inf Div in RVN. While his element was proceeding along a river bank, Sergeant Bryan observed an enemy soldier to his front. The enemy attempted to react, but Sgt Bryan immediately eliminated him. As the team moved further along, Sgt Bryan observed two more enemy soldiers on the opposite shore. Without regard for his personal safety, he immediately moved to an exposed position and eliminated one while another team member fatally wounded the other. Shortly thereafter, the team encountered three more enemy soldiers about fifteen meters to their front. Sgt Bryan and other team members immediately rushed the enemy, eliminating them before they could fire back. When a bobby trap detonated, causing several members of the team to receive fragmentation wounds, Sergeant Bryan, without hesitation, applied first aid, then directed a helicopter to pick up the wounded. Sergeant Bryan’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army. Sergeant Bryan continued to lead his Ranger Team 1-7 in the warrior tradition, leading by example, encouraging and inspiring his fellow rangers to give 100% and then some. His dedication to his fellow Rangers, duty and mission directly contributed to the high rate of efficiency and success of the Ranger Operations conducted against enemy forces by Echo Rangers.
On 13 July 1970, just 24 days away from Robert’s departure from Vietnam, he was killed in action by enemy ground fire, while conducting a visual reconnaissance from a light observation helicopter preparing for yet another mission.
Robert was killed within three weeks of completing his second tour in Vietnam. He was so close to coming home again. The American Flag that covered his casket was flown for one year over Colon Elementary School, where Robert had attended and where his two nephews were attending. Robert took time to visit this school when he was home on leave and talked with the children. The students in turn wrote letters to Robert while he was serving his country. Memorial contributions were used to purchase equipment for Colon Elementary and Colon High School.
No one who is remembered is ever truly gone. Robert will live on in the hearts of many who will never forget. Death is not extinguishing the light; it is putting out the lamp because dawn has come. His Warrior Spirit lives on!! RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!!!!