Uncle Bob Denman, R.I.P. - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Uncle Bob Denman, R.I.P.
by

Tuesday
In Isaiah, the prophet comes to see the Lord God Jehovah with his own eyes. And after cleansing Isaiah of sin, the Lord announces he plans to send a message of warning to sinning mankind. But who will send the message?

Isaiah answers, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”

I have the melancholy duty today of telling you that the younger of the heroic Denman brothers of Prescott, Arkansas, Major Robert G. Denman, died in Little Rock yesterday at about noon at about age 88. Uncle Bob died with his entire family around him, unconscious and at peace.

[[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”96698″,”attributes”:{“alt”:””,”class”:”media-image”,”height”:”342″,”style”:”float: right;”,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”width”:”480″}}]]My wife, Alexandra Denman, and I loved Uncle Bob with a burning hot love. He was as close to perfect as a man can be: kind, loving, heroic beyond belief, a devoted father, grandfather, and great grandfather, a total gentleman, a loving uncle, a superb golfer, and above all, a completely loyal and loving husband.

You really cannot believe how handsome he was, with his clean features, his sparkling eyes, and his wistful smile.

It is up to his children to describe him in some way far better than I can, but I never heard him say a mean word. I never heard him make a wisecrack about anyone. He had absolutely zero hostility. He almost never complained, even when in his latter days he was in dire medical straits and in pain.

He grew up in Prescott, a small town down the road from Hope. He went to local schools and then to a boarding school called Subiaco, if I have that right. Then to Henderson College where he was in Army ROTC.

He was commissioned a Lieutenant in 1950, and shortly after that was sent off to fight in the Korean War. I may have this wrong, but I believe he was with the X Corps, far into what is now North Korea, when United Nations forces were surprised and surrounded by an immense invasion of Korea by the Chinese Red Army, the so-called People’s Volunteer Army.

The battle is so complex, and was so ill run by the higher up brass on the U.S. side, that I always have a hard time following it, no matter how I try.

But what is clear is that at some time in late November of 1950, with temperatures well below zero, with grossly inadequate warm clothing, with weapons that literally froze, with blood plasma becoming like ice, Chinese forces attempted to overrun Lt. Denman’s position and his men were cut off on a high mountain pass. They wanted to break out but they were pinned down by a Chinese machine gun nest.

Bob Denman artfully made his way behind the machine gun nest and with his carbine, took out the men who had been manning the nest. Several days later Bob and his men were able to evacuate to the port of Hungnam and from there to the relative safety of Pusan.

How hard a fight was it? Uncle Bob told me that he was so close to the Chinese that he could reach out and touch them and even smell their breath.

Now, we all have some bad days and fear and aggravation are part of the human condition. But a hand to hand fight against fanatical Chinese shock troops who were as eager to kill Americans as people can be, in thirty degree below weather… and did I mention it was in the dark? That’s a bad day and those days went on for weeks.

When the U.S. commander, who I believe was General Almond, came to visit Uncle Bob’s position and heard what Bob had done, he ordered that Bob be offered the Silver Star.

It is the essence of Robert G. Denman that he told his commander that he would not accept the award, the nation’s second highest for heroism in combat, unless every man in his unit got one. His commander told Bob that it was not a unit citation. Bob refused the Silver Star.

That is the kind of man Bob Denman was. Fearless but utterly without any form of wish for recognition. I think I am safe in saying that it was the determination of men like Bob Denman and all who fought with him in Korea that assured that the Chinese would not make any further invasions in Asia for a good long while.

After the fighting, he went back home to Arkansas. He lived a quiet life with his beloved Mary Evelyn and Bob Jr. and Stan and his family and they were and are the people who make the foundations of the nation secure.

I had the great honor of visiting Bob Denman many times in Arkansas and once he came to visit my wife and me in California to play golf.

The last time I saw him, he said two things that haunt me. I asked him if he had any regrets or things he wished he had done differently. Yes, “I wish I had never said anything that made anybody feel bad about himself,” and he had tears in his eyes. Frankly, I doubt if he ever did.

And then he fixed me with his soft, loving eyes and said, “I consider you a Denman, too.” I have never been more honored.

Then this final memory. When Col. Denman, my wife’s father, was interred in Arlington in 2004, when the service was over and the folded flag handed to his widow and most of us had moved on, Uncle Bob stood at the site and slowly, in a perfect Army salute to his hero brother, this hero lifted his stiff right hand to brow and slowly lowered it. The hero Denman brothers together again. God bless Uncle Bob and glory to his Denman name forever.

Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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