Bob Vanderheiden

Profile Updated: November 11, 2020
Residing In San Francisco, CA USA
Spouse/Partner Valerie
Occupation retired
Children none
Military Service Coast Guard  
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U.S. Coast Guard 1970-77; USCG Reserve 1977-91, retired. BA, San Francisco State University, Journalism, Magna Cum Laude, 1981; Teaching credential, SF State, 2003, English, science, health. Associate Editor, Defense Electronics Magazine and Microwave Systems News, 1981-83. Systems Editor, reporter, business news copy editor, San Francisco Examiner 1983-1993. Various freelance writing/editing work, San Francisco area, 1993-2001. Health teacher, Westmoor High School, Daly City, Calif.; high-school sub. Retired.
Valerie and I married in 1973 and have lived in San Francisco ever since. Valerie had a great retirement agreement, and we've been able to travel extensively, including more than 40 cruises -- more than 30 on Disney Cruise Lines.

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Nov
15
Nov 15, 2020 at 7:37 AM

Posted on: Nov 11, 2020 at 1:18 PM

Today, Veteran's Day, I'd like to honor fellow students who served. I spoke with two before the reunion -- it was the first time I'd seen them in 50 years. Bruce Balent, who was our ROTC student commander and the "city colonel," or top cadet in Long Beach. He went on to the Air Force academy and served with distinction both in the cockpit of gigantic cargo transports and classrooms of the academy, where he was, to keep it simple, a computer instructor. Jeff Poe is a Naval Academy grad and became a submarine officer and later a civilian nuclear scientist. A third, Carl Harmon, became an Army master sergeant. He didn't attend.

Most importantly, I'd like to honor Sergeant First Class Elmer W. Stringfellow, who I think was Millikan's first African American teacher; he was one of our two ROTC instructors. "Sarge" first saw combat on Guadalcanal. After the Marines made their famous landing and captured the island against incredible resistance, the Army was sent in to mop up. Sarge was, then, a second lieutenant, a "90-day wonder" trained to command a Negro platoon. He was eventually promoted to major, but because he was a reserve officer, when the war ended he was offered this ultimatum: In the troop drawdown, either accept a BIG cut in rank or take a hike. He stayed, and lost his commission. He served as a Sergeant but, because he held the temporary commission as major, he retired at that pay level. He later taught "military science" at Poly before being moved to Millikan to help Master Sergeant David McMahon run the ROTC program. It was, in its second year, larger than Jordan's or Poly's unit -- and that, of course, was before girls were allowed to enroll.

Please join me on this Veteran's Day in saluting Sergeant First Class Elmer W. Stringfellow and the dozens of other Millikan teachers who served our country in its times of need and occasional moments of peace.

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Aug
05
Aug 05, 2020 at 12:58 PM

Posted on: Aug 04, 2020 at 9:09 PM

I just noticed the date: August 4 is the Coast Guard's 230th birthday -- so for the very few special among you who were also in the Coast Guard, happy anniversary.

Bob Vanderheiden has a birthday today.
May
14
May 14, 2020 at 1:37 AM
Bob Vanderheiden has left an In Memory comment for Patti Deight Griffin.
Oct 03, 2019 at 5:33 PM

Did I know Patti? I can't recall, although if she and Steve Light were in the same 10th-grade English and SS classes, I should have known here. Steve, you make me wish to God On High I had known Patti, had even known someone like her. May the spirits be kind to you, Patti.

Sep 18, 2019 at 12:43 AM

Hi, Terry! That was a weird year in Pikop's English class. Wish I could remember the name of that (even taller) guy with the flat-top who sat next to us and talked without pause for the first half hour of every period. You sure were tolerant. Of me, too -- sometimes I couldn't help but participate in his daily chat-fests. Hope I get a chance to introduce you to my wife, Valerie, and I promise to let you say all you'd like!

Bob Vanderheiden has left an In Memory comment for Glen Jordan.
Sep 17, 2019 at 1:34 AM

Glen is one of the guys I was hoping to run into at the reunion. Ah, regret.

Like so many of my friends, we met through ROTC. Glen was a transplant from Chicago, where he attended an all-boys' public high school of nearly 5,000 students. Bigger than Millikan! You had to be different to be noticed, strong to be accepted. I think he brought some of that Chicago with him, not including just a bit of a midwest accent. One evening or weekend he came by my house; Dad was home. Whether Glen there  because he dropped me off after an ROTC activity, or to reassure my Dad that the party he was throwing was truly going to be alcohol-free, I don't recall. But when he said he was from Chicago -- Glen had a way of saying it; Shi-CAG-oh, like drag or slag or stag. Or like Dad.

Dad kept a straight face, repeating the word, but I could tell he was amused, and he mentioned it later.

As far as I knew, the party WAS alcohol-free.

Glen maybe felt a bit Napoleonic, being shorter than average, and maybe Chi-CAG-oh teens were a bit more domineering over others than I noticed in Long Beach. So Glen had one of the early moustaches, worked on keeping his voice deep, showed some swagger, worked on his "military bearing" for ROTC, trained hard at shooting and drill team; was a founder of our not-so-successful drum and bugle team. When I see those old WWII military logos with an angry Donald-Ducky character in profile, garrison cap tilted down, cigar clamped in the side of his mouth, I think of Glen Jordan.

Not that he was cartoonish. He was memorable. He was self-concious. He was always trying to impress, to be his best.

We all need a little (sorry; "a bit of") Glen Jordan in our memories. Thanks, buddy.

Bob Vanderheiden has left an In Memory comment for Steve Kish.
Sep 13, 2019 at 5:33 PM

I wish I knew you better, Steve. We had a couple of years of ROTC, same platoon or whatever. You took pride in looking sharp on uniform day, but more importantly you always had a smile and never a bad word about anyone. You were someone the nice guys said was a nice guy.  Bon  voyage, friendly stranger.

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Sep 13, 2019 at 1:42 PM
Sep 05, 2019 at 12:49 PM
Bob Vanderheiden posted a message. New comment added.
Jul 18, 2019 at 8:39 PM

Posted on: Jun 15, 2019 at 3:17 PM

Sorry to say I don't remember you, but maybe we had some USCG contact. I was active 1970-77, then reserve until retirement in '91. I was a QM1, based at Alameda until QM/signalman schools at Newport Navy base, R.I. Then I was assigned to Pt. Brower in San Diego until I mutualed to Resolute (210' medium-endurance cutter). I reenlisted in '74 to get transferred ashore, to Alameda reserve schools as instructor; went reserve in '77 for college, and retired from CGR in '91. I lived on Stevely, two short blocks south of Wardlow and next to the San Gabriel River. Where on Wardlow were you? (not because I'm looking for a house, sorry.) Anything of interest to share with another former Coastie?

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Jun 26, 2019 at 7:09 AM

Posted on: Jun 15, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Carrie, I just discovered that you and I were both Coasties, but my recall of RAMhi names and faces is pretty poor. I'm very sorry that I can't recall you from classes or from the Guard. I was permanent-party instructor at the reserve schools in Alameda 1974-77, and summer stock '78-81 -- primarily instructing Small Boat Operations, but also REBI, Instructor Training, and a class period or two in several other schools. I retired from USCGR in '91 as a QM1. Any interesting service-related stories to share with me and the world?
--Bob

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May 14, 2019 at 1:34 AM
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May 07, 2019 at 9:28 AM

Posted on: May 06, 2019 at 2:25 PM

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Mar 09, 2019 at 9:48 AM
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Posted: Mar 09, 2019 at 9:48 AM