By ROBERT BOSWORTH
Robert Noble of Quincy, a World War II Army infantry veteran and ex-Prisoner of War who never forgot his fellow veterans, passed away unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 92 years old.
Mr. Noble was a beloved community figure and supported veterans events and organizations in Quincy. He was among the veterans who took part in the annual fishing outing for disabled veterans in Houghs Neck last month.
He was the loving husband of the late Gloria Noble who passed away Oct. 1, 2013. They were married 63 years.
Mr. Noble is survived by his four children: Robert Noble, Jr. and his wife Donna of Quincy; Alicia Gardner and the late William Gardner of Quincy; Nancy Noble and her husband Charles McLaughlin of Harwich; and Andrea White and her husband, Roger White, of Quincy.
On Dec. 16, 1944, Mr. Noble was a private first class in the Army infantry when he was captured in Alsace-Lorraine, France, during the Battle of the Bulge. He was two days shy of his 19thbirthday.
He was liberated 122 days later, on April 16, 1945.
But before he was freed he endured an ordeal.
Bob was forced to dig trenches in frozen ground for anti-aircraft emplacements. One day, a fighter aircraft shot its 50-caliber machine guns near Bob’s group. He took cover in a trench. Bullets came close but did not harm him.
He also spent four days in a box car with another 120 men. The POWs were lef out of the car only once.
During his time as a prisoner, Bob suffered frostbite in both feet. He lost 35 pounds off his 135-pound frame.
But through it all he tried to take it in stride.
“My attitude was that I took whatever came and did the best that I could and whatever happened, happened. There wasn’t anything I could change so I rolled with the punches,” he said in an interview in November, 2011.
He was a very proud veteran and very proud ex-POW.
“I am glad that I am a veteran,” he said in that interview. “I’m glad I enlisted and did my duty at that time.”
He became a strong advocate for the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization and served as its state commander for several years.
Three years ago, Mr. Noble was honored to present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He selected April 9 to present the wreath – National Former POW Recognition Day.
Mr. Noble saluted as a bugler from the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own” played taps. On Bob’s left was Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, commanding officer, U.S. Army Military District of Washington. On his right two of his four children: daughter Alicia Gardner and son, Robert, Jr. Each placed their right hands over their hearts. Bob’s other two daughters, Andrea White and Nancy Noble, proudly looked on from the viewing stand.
Among the several hundred visitors to the Tomb watching from the steps of the Memorial Amphitheater were nearly three dozen more family and friends who had traveled from Quincy to support Bob and witness this solemn and moving ceremony.
“I feel it was not for me alone,” Mr. Noble said after the ceremony. “I was a symbol for all World War II veterans and Ex-POWs. I had all my friends in mind and all POWs from all the wars on my mind when I placed the wreath and bowed to meditate before the playing of Taps.”
Mr. Noble attended Boston College on the GI Bill that also helped him purchase his first home. A retired engineer at a screw machine company, Bob worked as a freelance photographer for The Quincy Sun for many years.
He and Gloria were honored by many community organizations for their dedicated service including The Quincy Sun that presented the husband-and-wife team the newspaper’s Citizen of the Year Award.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Keohane Funeral Home, Quincy. Information about services will be posted on The Quincy Sun website (www.TheQuincySun.com) when available.