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 John Arner Robenson

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John Arner Robenson

Birth
Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death
21 Dec 1956 (aged 69)
Los Altos, Santa Clara County, California, USA
Burial
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA
Plot
NAWS 1439-B
Memorial ID
28406859 View Source

John Arner Robenson

No. 4921 CLASS of 1910

DIED DECEMBER 21, 1956, AT LOS ALTOS, CALIFORNIA, AGED 69 YEARS.

Our "Robbie" has passed away. It is hard to think of him yielding even to the Grim Reaper.

Retiring in 1947 for disability, he and his lovely charming Isabel made a home at Los Altos. She was Isabel Smith of Topeka, Kansas. They were married before "Robbie" joined the Seventh Cavalry in the Philippines in 1914. Their one child, Abigail is the wife of Colonel Vincent L. Boylan, Armor of the Class of 1939. Isabel never really recovered from a serious automobile accident, and died in 1949.

Robbie was a true Cavalryman and spent his entire career in that arm, except for a short detail in the Field Artillery during World War I. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1923 and from the Army War College in 1925, being one of the first of 1910 to take the latter course. Robbie literally rode the Mexican Border from Second Lieutenant to Colonel, his last troop duty being in command of the 12th Cavalry in Texas in 1939 and 1940.

When contemporaries recall "Cadet Days" they are bound to reflect of some of the colorful characters of 1910, among whom were Robbie and some of his closest friends - Harry Chamberlain, "Nellie" Thornell, "Rim" Polk, Dan Pullen, Lawson Moore, and Rex Cocroft. At bull sessions of those and later days in the service, his friends and acquaintences will tell and re-tell anecdotes of his hell-raising and pranks. They often came to the attention of the "powers-that-be". Robbie's wit was matchless in variety and penetration. His speech bristled with pointed simile and metaphor. He was as salty as the half-broken cayuses he rode, but beneath a hard-boiled exterior was a heart of gold and a willingness to share his all with one in need.

Pearl Harbor found Robbie on a transport, somewhere West of Honolulu, headed for the Philippines and General Wainwright's command. But December seventh changed the course of the ship and early in January, 1942 Robbie landed at Darwin, Australia and took command of the Service Forces there. Then began a real saga of the South Pacific, with our John Arner in the leading role.

The War Department had set up a project to send blockade runners through to Corregidor and Bataan. Robbie's directive from Washington, received by him on January 19th was (paraphrasing):

"You and six other officers will proceed to Java. Officers will be of Junior grade, athletic, resourceful and of sound judgment. MacArthur reports food situation on Corregidor and Bataan becoming serious. States blockade is light and may be easily run by bold action. Imperative that you organize comprehensive efforts to run the blockade. Only indomitable determination and pertinacity will succeed and success must be ours. Risks will be great. Rewards must be proportionate."

Ten million dollars was placed at Robbie's disposal to be used at his sole discretion. The next long month is the subject of a two-installment article in the November and December issues of COSMOPOLITAN, 1945, by Bogart Rogers, entitled, "Help for the Heroes of Bataan." The story is an epic and well worth reading.

Robbie's job was to find, outfit and load small surface craft with rations; ammunition, quinine and antiseptics and to dispatch them through the Jap-infested seas to our beleaguered forces in the Philippines. He hoped to dig up fifteen or twenty ships and with this in mind, set off for Soerabja, Java, with his small hand-picked staff. But surface craft were hard to find, let alone commission, outfit and load. It was a period of cajoling, wangling and negotiating, not only with our own forces and services in that area but also with our British and Dutch allies. It was a month of frustration- hope alternating with despair. One who knew Robbie can picture the hell he went through, thwarted on almost every hand, and one can almost hear his picturesque invective in those interminable conferences. He may not have always won his point, but his listeners, regardless of who they were, knew what he meant and what he wanted.

Initially two small coasters were loaded and dispatched; one was bombed and sunk, the other so badly battered that its cargo was a complete loss. Finally, a third ship was started out through the Java Sea but was probably caught in the Maelstrom in which Admiral Doorman's little Allied Fleet was destroyed by a Jap armada, late in February, as it never reached its destination. At this point, Robbie was ordered back to Australia. He barely managed to escape capture.

Robbie's big heart was in this job. He knew the necessity for getting vital supplies to MacArthur and Wainwright, and he toiled at it unremittingly as long as he was in that part of the war Theatre. Small wonder, that when one knows the conditions under which he strove, that he should develop ulcers, which eventually would kill him. His valiant efforts won him the Distinguished Service Medal.

Surviving him, in addition to his daughter, Mrs. Vincent L. Boylan, Maxwell Air Base, Alabama, are his sister, Floyd, Mrs. Frederick M. Barrows, of Washington, D. C., widow of Colonel F. M. Barrows, F.A., and his wife Marguerite, Box 582, Los Altos, California. The latter was the widow of Lieutenant Colonel Roscoe S. Parker, Cavalry. The Robensons and the Parkers had seen considerable service together in the Cavalry Division. Robbie's mother, Mrs. James Rowlwey, of El Paso, well-known in the service as "Muddie" to many of Robbie's friends, passed away on her Texas ranch in the mid-forties.

Robbie's ashes and those of Isabel rest in the National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco.

(Source: West Point)

John Arner Robenson

No. 4921 CLASS of 1910

DIED DECEMBER 21, 1956, AT LOS ALTOS, CALIFORNIA, AGED 69 YEARS.

Our "Robbie" has passed away. It is hard to think of him yielding even to the Grim Reaper.

Retiring in 1947 for disability, he and his lovely charming Isabel made a home at Los Altos. She was Isabel Smith of Topeka, Kansas. They were married before "Robbie" joined the Seventh Cavalry in the Philippines in 1914. Their one child, Abigail is the wife of Colonel Vincent L. Boylan, Armor of the Class of 1939. Isabel never really recovered from a serious automobile accident, and died in 1949.

Robbie was a true Cavalryman and spent his entire career in that arm, except for a short detail in the Field Artillery during World War I. He graduated from the Command and General Staff School in 1923 and from the Army War College in 1925, being one of the first of 1910 to take the latter course. Robbie literally rode the Mexican Border from Second Lieutenant to Colonel, his last troop duty being in command of the 12th Cavalry in Texas in 1939 and 1940.

When contemporaries recall "Cadet Days" they are bound to reflect of some of the colorful characters of 1910, among whom were Robbie and some of his closest friends - Harry Chamberlain, "Nellie" Thornell, "Rim" Polk, Dan Pullen, Lawson Moore, and Rex Cocroft. At bull sessions of those and later days in the service, his friends and acquaintences will tell and re-tell anecdotes of his hell-raising and pranks. They often came to the attention of the "powers-that-be". Robbie's wit was matchless in variety and penetration. His speech bristled with pointed simile and metaphor. He was as salty as the half-broken cayuses he rode, but beneath a hard-boiled exterior was a heart of gold and a willingness to share his all with one in need.

Pearl Harbor found Robbie on a transport, somewhere West of Honolulu, headed for the Philippines and General Wainwright's command. But December seventh changed the course of the ship and early in January, 1942 Robbie landed at Darwin, Australia and took command of the Service Forces there. Then began a real saga of the South Pacific, with our John Arner in the leading role.

The War Department had set up a project to send blockade runners through to Corregidor and Bataan. Robbie's directive from Washington, received by him on January 19th was (paraphrasing):

"You and six other officers will proceed to Java. Officers will be of Junior grade, athletic, resourceful and of sound judgment. MacArthur reports food situation on Corregidor and Bataan becoming serious. States blockade is light and may be easily run by bold action. Imperative that you organize comprehensive efforts to run the blockade. Only indomitable determination and pertinacity will succeed and success must be ours. Risks will be great. Rewards must be proportionate."

Ten million dollars was placed at Robbie's disposal to be used at his sole discretion. The next long month is the subject of a two-installment article in the November and December issues of COSMOPOLITAN, 1945, by Bogart Rogers, entitled, "Help for the Heroes of Bataan." The story is an epic and well worth reading.

Robbie's job was to find, outfit and load small surface craft with rations; ammunition, quinine and antiseptics and to dispatch them through the Jap-infested seas to our beleaguered forces in the Philippines. He hoped to dig up fifteen or twenty ships and with this in mind, set off for Soerabja, Java, with his small hand-picked staff. But surface craft were hard to find, let alone commission, outfit and load. It was a period of cajoling, wangling and negotiating, not only with our own forces and services in that area but also with our British and Dutch allies. It was a month of frustration- hope alternating with despair. One who knew Robbie can picture the hell he went through, thwarted on almost every hand, and one can almost hear his picturesque invective in those interminable conferences. He may not have always won his point, but his listeners, regardless of who they were, knew what he meant and what he wanted.

Initially two small coasters were loaded and dispatched; one was bombed and sunk, the other so badly battered that its cargo was a complete loss. Finally, a third ship was started out through the Java Sea but was probably caught in the Maelstrom in which Admiral Doorman's little Allied Fleet was destroyed by a Jap armada, late in February, as it never reached its destination. At this point, Robbie was ordered back to Australia. He barely managed to escape capture.

Robbie's big heart was in this job. He knew the necessity for getting vital supplies to MacArthur and Wainwright, and he toiled at it unremittingly as long as he was in that part of the war Theatre. Small wonder, that when one knows the conditions under which he strove, that he should develop ulcers, which eventually would kill him. His valiant efforts won him the Distinguished Service Medal.

Surviving him, in addition to his daughter, Mrs. Vincent L. Boylan, Maxwell Air Base, Alabama, are his sister, Floyd, Mrs. Frederick M. Barrows, of Washington, D. C., widow of Colonel F. M. Barrows, F.A., and his wife Marguerite, Box 582, Los Altos, California. The latter was the widow of Lieutenant Colonel Roscoe S. Parker, Cavalry. The Robensons and the Parkers had seen considerable service together in the Cavalry Division. Robbie's mother, Mrs. James Rowlwey, of El Paso, well-known in the service as "Muddie" to many of Robbie's friends, passed away on her Texas ranch in the mid-forties.

Robbie's ashes and those of Isabel rest in the National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco.

(Source: West Point)


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