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Veteran's Voice: WWII Purple Heart recipient embraces the retired life

Posted at 10:37 AM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-05 02:04:25-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Bob Andre is well known at his retirement community, Las Ventanas, as a social butterfly who jokes with everyone.

While he frequently talks to his fellow residents, one topic he rarely brings up is his own personal background in the service.

According to Andre, he was an orphan and living on the streets at age 17, so he turned to the Marines, joining in February of 1942. He was in for a total of 26 months. One major battle he saw was the Battle of Tarawa.

“There was 76 hours of 24/7 fighting and we lost over 1,000 men just that quick,” said Andre.

The marine now has a Purple Heart and a Silver Star. He said he got those awards because of what happened at Saipan. Andre said he was awake in the early hours of the morning when he saw men approaching, but couldn’t tell if they were allies or not.

“I was sitting with my feet in the foxhole, my back against the tree just looking at nothing and all of a sudden I saw people coming at us, a bunch of guys coming,” said Andre.

The next thing he knew, a Japanese man was attacking him and all Andre had for defense was a pistol.

“I threw my pistol at him and it hit him, threw him just off guard and I was able to grab his rifle and we were wrestling and another guy shot him and killed him,” said Andre.

He then realized one of his men was injured, so he helped save him, even though he was then hit in the leg by a hand grenade.

These heroic actions helped get him the Purple Heart and Silver Star, but even with the prestigious awards, he said his focus isn’t on the past, but the present.

“I just live to laugh every day, all we do is laugh. I don’t worry about a thing, nothing to worry about,” he said, then gestured to the wall of old pictures and medals. “I’m not going through that anymore, thank goodness.”

If you know a veteran who should be featured on Veteran's Voice, email veteransvoice@ktnv.com.