I’ve seen Concrete Bob cry.
That’s not the normal opening for a SYSK, is it?
Robert “Concrete Bob” Miller did not have the sobs of a wimp – instead it was gigantic howling, mad physical crying, leaving him breathless. Crying the way a strong man shows grief. Then, Bob would stop and say, “We got work to do.”
Everyone that knows Bob also knew that he laughed in the very same way...
I don’t recall if I first met Concrete Bob in the basement bar at Fran O’Brien’s or at the gate at Walter Reed. It was about twelve years ago, and my first recollection of him was standing on the corner on a Friday night, outside the gate at Walter Reed, counter protesting Code Pink - a group of hardcore socialist women deliberately trying to demoralize our newly arriving wounded troops with signs that said "you got maimed for a lie" and displaying coffins, among other nasty things. Once per week, on Friday night, our most severely wounded troops came to Walter Reed from Germany. Once on the ground, a bus brought them to the base at about 9pm. And Code Pink would be there to send a horrible message.
I remember getting off of the Georgia Ave bus and Bob handing me the flag when the Army bus of wounded troops arrived at about 2130. The flag was huge and I stepped out into the street to block the hags from Code Pink protesting our wounded warriors just arriving. I know that Major Pain was there, too. Maybe John and Mary Bell, among others.
After the bus with our wounded troops entered the fort, we all went to Malone House (Fisher House) to see if anyone needed anything.
In Malone House, Bob wanted to check on a few of the long term guests there. He hadn’t seen some of them in a few months. The wounded soldiers and their families greeted Bob like a hero. Because Bob was a hero. A big damn hero.
Concrete Bob was a Marine veteran - street smart and cunning. As my friend Jonn Lilyea wrote the other day:
“When Code Pink’s protest permit expired, Bob was at the DC office and got permission for the counter-protest to occupy both sides of the main gate. The Code Pink protest got moved down the block away from the sight of the wounded troops as they arrived on the Friday night bus.”
Bob ensured that those horrible people would not damage our troops any more than they already had been.
Big. Damn. Hero.
“Your BBQ sauce is a healing elixir of joy and goodness.” – review of Concrete Bob’s BBQ Sauce
If you knew Bob, you never were hungry around him. Bob fed everyone.
There are stories upon stories upon stories of Concrete Bob and his amazing-kick-ass-best-sauce-you-ever-had BBQ. When Malone House was under construction and a new patio was added in 2010, Bob fed the construction workers, along with the families there. Just because.
Once when I was in DC and Bob couldn’t meet me due to a work conflict, he sent BBQ sauce in mason jars to my hotel room. Just because.
Recently, one of our friends shared a story about Bob running a veteran support event in a park, and then feeding homeless people there, saying, “No one goes hungry around me!”
No one ever did.
Big. Damn. Hero.
Bob teamed up with the boys from BlackFive on many ambitious endeavors. I became acquainted with United Conservatives, folks from the Free Republic (FReepers), Vets for Freedom, Protest Warrior, The Gathering of Eagles, etc. Early on, I began to understand that Concrete Bob was not just a follower but a nexus connecting many of his friends. While Bob would never admit that he was a leader, he led by example. He showed great humility at times. And, others, it was the Concrete Bob Show. You all know what I mean.
Bob championed, I mean CHAMPIONED, veteran causes. His work on behalf of veterans raised tons of money, awareness and gave vets and their families hope. Of all people, Concrete Bob brought a sense of normalcy to people whose lives had changed dramatically. Bob would hear of someone in need and immediately reach out to his network to find a way to help. He saved lives. Because that’s what Concrete Bob does.
Big. Damn. Hero.
Bob wasn’t a blogger when we first met. He became one soon after meeting Smash and Jimbo and I.
One of his first posts was about his critics posting comments:
To the asshats who wrote the dumb posts, you should Thank God you live in a country that allows you to be as stupid as you want to be, and no one can bitch slap you for it.
That, my friends, was the essence of Concrete Bob – humor, pride in his country, ire at those who oppose us, and a point to be made in one single sentence. He would never be deterred from saying what he thought needed to be said.
Big. Damn. Hero.
What I haven’t said before is that Bob was one of my biggest supporters, one of the first, and a huge fan of BlackFive. He sent encouraging emails to me week after week after week…He handed out our cards, our shirts, everything. Bob was all in. Hell, BlackFive would have been so much less without Concrete Bob in our corner.
He sent me this a few years ago. I hadn’t heard from him in a while.
Thanks for taking an interest, Matt. Great to hear from you as well.
You keep amazing me with your posts. Don’t stop.
But I did stop. I burned out.
Bob saw it coming at me and wouldn’t quit. While I wish I had his unbreakable spirit, I am so very grateful to have been propelled by it over the years. I am in his debt.
Bob would be happy and completely embarrassed to be in the Someone You Should Know category (as he sent us many candidates for the posts). We all know that he belongs with that group.
Bob died on Tuesday, November 28th, 2017 after a long fight with cancer. He leaves behind a wife, children, and grandchildren along with an outstanding legacy that I only began to touch upon.
A memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 16, 2017, at Hunton Baptist Church, 11660 Greenwood Rd., Glen Allen, Va. 23060.
There’s an old saying that you die twice. Once when your heart stops beating. The second time when no one remembers you. No one who met him can ever forget Concrete Bob Miller.
Bob is now free. A great man with a generous heart, he had faith in many of us, despite our own doubts, and that energy carried us through many storms. He gave us many, many laughs, great food, and his enduring loyalty and friendship…even when we didn’t deserve it.
Semper Fidelis, indeed.
Bob loved and was loved imperfectly, honestly, fiercely, and he gave away love, respect, and kick ass BBQ, all with a great sense of humor. After all, that is what life is all about - Bob gave away everything that he received.
Bob believed in us. He never stopped. I pray that he knows the effect that he had on each of us.
Bob would frequently close his correspondence with, “you can count on me” and “I love you all.”
We love you, too, Bob.