DENVER — Every hour at Fort Logan Cemetery, another veteran is laid to rest. At 10 a.m. Tuesday, it was Bob McAdam's turn to be honored.
“He lived a wonderful life for nearly 102 years," his son Brian McAdam said. "I’m so darned blessed and fortunate that I was around for 64 of those years.”
His father's service to the country earned him a headstone at the national cemetery. During World War II, Bob's B-17 was shot down, and he became a prisoner of war for 10 months at the German prison camp Stalag Luft I.
Fifty-two years later, after documentation of his injuries was discovered, Bob received a Purple Heart.
In 2014, while living in a retirement community, Bob discovered he was living just 25 steps from Butch Desens, who was also a POW in the same prison camp at the same time. They were rescued in May 1945. Both served again in the Korean War. When their wives passed away, they ended up neighbors.
A documentary, titled "25 Steps," tells their story.
“Now the tough part begins, because we have to take everything that he’s taught us over the years and continue his legacy," Brian said.
That legacy is storied.
While on assignment for the Air Force Reserve, Bob evaluated the physical fitness of candidates applying for Project Mercury.
Brian said that meant "he was in there with John Glenn, Alan Shepard, and many many other well-known Mercury Project astronauts."
Bob held a Ph.D. in physical education and was a professor of kinesiology.
"When you're standing here in this environment, so much of it is focused on the military aspect, but I remember a lot of Dad," Brian said.
Brian remembers his dad's humility and patience as the father of five sons and a daughter.
“Thanksgiving Days, where a lot of individuals will kick back and watch football games, my dad, first thing after Thanksgiving dinner, he would walk over to the kitchen sink, throw a towel over his shoulder and start doing dishes. That’s just who he was," Brian said. "He was always willing to help and contribute and try and make life easier for someone around him."
On Thanksgiving 2017, Bob ran a Turkey Trot and broke the 5K world record for anyone older than 95.
“He’s miraculous,” Brian said back when his dad broke the record. “He’s setting a new standard for what 97-year-olds can do. He’s remarkable. There’s nothing artificial about him. His own knees, his own hips, his own effort.”
“I’ve had a lot of good fortune, so looking back on it, I’m so lucky,” Bob said on Thanksgiving 2017. “I’m thankful for family, primarily.”
With every hour that passes, another veteran will be honored at Fort Logan.
"You think it’s about your father, and it is, but all you need to do is start to look around and you realize it’s much more than that," Brian said.
Each veteran has their own family who carries on their stories of war, and the lives they lived long after they fought.
As Bob's service ended, Brian put his hand on the casket and said, "Love you, Dad. Thank you for all the things you’ve taught."
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