Childhood

Dad grew up in the small north central town of Pine River Minnesota. 

Dad was the oldest of five siblings.  He had three brothers; Rich, Donny and Keith and one sister; Faith Ann. In high school, he was a member of the football and track team.  He was one of the last classes to attend the 'old' school in town.

He worked a variety of jobs.  He was a newspaper boy, drove truck, and worked at the Land O'Lakes Dairy. One summer he was employed as a trail guide in the Boundary Waters. I remember him telling me the story of the lady who made the best root beer.  She could portage a canoe better than he could.   https://www.rootbeerlady.com/

Dad had countless tales of the adventures he and his friends had growing up. We welcome any stories Dad and his various adventures. You can post these on the stories tab.

The Guam Years

Grandpa Emmett was stationed in Guam from 1956 to 1958. The family travelled across the world via train and ship in 1956. Dad had saved his certificate of the Golden Dragon showing he had passed over the 180th meridian via ship on March 20th, 1956.

Dad had many tall tales of finding unspent Japanese and American bullets, bombs and grenades in the jungles as kids. He told me stories of shooting old Japanese machine guns and throwing grenades into caves. The 'fun' ended however when live rounds were brought back home and Grandma Faith found out what the kids had been playing within the Jungle.

Dad loved to dive, fish, and swim in the Pacific Ocean. He was proud of how long he could hold his breath to deep sea dive with the locals. He told many stories of diving for Conch shells.  One time he found one beautiful shell deep in the ocean.  He stuffed the shell in his shirt to bring it back to shore.  Unfortunately, the shell's resident cut dad's chest and he started bleeding. He did not want to be attacked by the sharks. So he dropped the shell and swam back to shore as fast as he could.   

Boundary Waters

Dad had a special connection with the Boundary Waters canoe area in Northern Minnesota. He and his childhood friends traveled there for a high school trip before they embarked into the world after high school. Dad returned several summers to the Boundary Waters to work at the Wilderness Canoe Base during his college years. He helped construct the camp in its early days, and was most importantly a canoe guide. He had several fascinating stories about being a guide, including one in which his group canoed to the Hudson Bay and returned. The entire summer was that one trip.

I was extremely fortunate and was able to return the Boundary Waters for two canoe trips with my Dad. We visited the Wilderness Canoe Base during one trip and they were extremely friendly and accommodating. Most of the guides were so curious to hear about the early years of the Canoe Base, and Dad was happy to tell. We were able to use the Camp Sauna after Dad had recounted stories from the early years. Dad and I sat in the Sauna for 45 minutes and then I proceeded to see my 47 year old father step outside, sprint top speed and jump off the end of the dock in the cold waters of Seagull lake. I paused thought about it, assessed that if Dad could do it I could, then I followed right behind him. To this day, I still can vividly recount the feeling of immersing into the cold water after sitting in a sauna.

College Years

Dad attended Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota from 1961 - 1966. In the 1980's we were able to reconnect with one of his roommates and good friends from the college years, Larry Anderson. We would spend Thanksgivings with the Anderson's and revel in the stories from Dad and Larry's college years. When and Dad and Larry were together, we were given a glimpse of both their life while in their 20's at college. They both talked about the great experiences they had at their off-campus house, a converted barn with rooms for college students.  They held dances and social drinking events (aka college parties) at the barn since Concordia (a religious based Lutheran school) did not allow dances on campus during the 1960's (at least that is what Dad and Larry told us).

Marine Corps

Dad enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1966 and traveled to Quantico in August of 1966 to start his training. He attended Officer's Candidate School in 1967 as part of TBS 3-67 Company F. His ultimate goal was to become a Marine Corps aviator, however with the demands of the Vietnam War Dad became an Infantry Officer.

Immediately after graduation, Dad deployed as an Officer in the 1st Marines 9th Battalion (1/9) to Vietnam - the unit which became known as the 'Walking Dead'.

He was at the Siege of Khe Sanh Link and the subsequent Hill Fights Link near the DMZ in 1967/1968. As an officer he contributed and is listed in the battalion records (September 1967 - July 1968) hosted at the following location 1st Marines 9th Battalion History

He had a second tour to Vietnam with the 1/9 in 1971/72 - Link. He mentioned that he was included numerous divisions that were staged to invade North Vietnam in Operation Mule Shoe. This planned operation did not occur.

After Vietnam, Dad spent time as the Marine Corps officer coordinator for the Iowa Marine Corps reserve. During this time period, he was also the Marine Corps casualty officer for Iowa and Nebraska. He was the formal casualty officer for Lance Corporal Darwin Judge, one of the last two US soldiers to die in Vietnam.

I took Dad to see Saving Private Ryan at the theater in 1998. Near the beginning of the movie the army Chaplin and Officer visit the Ryan family farm to deliver the sad news. I looked over to my dad and saw him visible crying. It was one of the few times in my life I visibly saw my Dad upset. He only stated, "I did that, that was me". It was some time later Dad was able to articulate how the role of being a causality officer etched his soul. He also explained the story about he went to Washington DC to meet with Henry Kissinger and Edward Kennedy at the State Department as they were negotiating the return of the fallen US solders Darwin Judge and Charles McMahon. The enormity of the situation seems incomprehensible to me to this day.

Dad's final stop in the Marine Corps was at Camp Lejune in North Carolina. He attended nuclear weapons and amphibious warfare school. Unfortunately Dad didn't make promotion to Major so in his words it was "up or out" and he finished his Marine Corps career in 1978.

Family Years

Dad was married to Lynda Weiss. They had two children Bobbi (Hillen) and Scott Arboleda. My earliest memories of Dad was when he came home from his first tour of Vietnam. He was very quiet. I loved traveling with him. It was always going to be an adventure. One of our most memorial trips was traveling from Pine River, MN to Quantico, VA. We planned to stay in Niagara Falls so I could ride the boat by the falls.  Our trip was delayed and we had one hour at the falls.  Dad gave me a quarter to view the falls from a camera. I was crushed. Years later while in college I received a letter from my dad with pictures of dad, mom, and Scott enjoying their vacation at Niagara Falls. I will miss his humor, jokes, and stories.  

In 1975, our parents bought a cabin on Norway Lake in Pine River, MN.  It is a magical place. Our family and friends came to visit. As kids we made forts, ran in the woods, and played in the lake. It was great. I was able to fish with Dad until sunset or we were called in off the lake. He taught us many important life skills at the cabin; starting fires, weed whacking, fishing, priming pumps, cooking, shooting, and tree trimming. I remember Scott playing for hours in the tub filled with water. He made some of the best forts. Some of my best memories was sitting by the camp fire talking with family and friends late into night. 

Travis and I have two children, Steven and Sean Hillen.  Dad was an amazing grandfather.  He allowed the boys to explore and do things mothers do not allow.  Dad took them on several trips to Yellowstone and Canada. He bought them BB guns. I am not sure who wanted to shoot them more, grandpa or his grandchildren.  While Dad was watching the boys, Steven almost "Shot his eye out".  He fired the BB gun and the ball ricocheted. He put his hand up to shield his eyes and the BB embedded into his hand.  Dad called me at work to let me know "Steven has been shot and was going to the emergency room" and the phone lost connection. I called Travis to let him know.  We left work and started north breaking many speed limits. I contacted St. Josephs to give consent to treat him.  The nurse asked where he was shot, I explained I had no idea. Around St. Cloud, we finally connected with Grandma. We found out he was shot in the hand. While Dad was in the ER he had to be interviewed by the Sheriff for a gun accident.   

Dad lived with us in Burnsville MN for several years.  The boys took turns staying with him at the cabin for the summer.  I am thankful our boys had the opportunity to know their grandfather and share so many great times with him. I will always miss Dad, Travis, Robert, and the boys cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Dad loved to cook and it was a blast to make chili with him. 

Besides our children Dad was grandpa to many. He was fun and loved kids. Grandpa Bob loved to take kids out on the boat and had an infinite amount of patience. He made you feel valuable and always taught you how to do things.  Time and attention is a precious gift. 

I don't recall a time we did not have a Siamese cat in the house. My brother and Dad took care of Frost and Jasmine for us due to Sean's allergies. One summer he took care of our dog Mac.  Those two were inseparable.  Mac had his own pillow for the dad's car and in the trailer.  Thanks to Dad Mac finally learned how to walk on a leash.   

l will miss heading out on the lake early in the morning while the fog is still visible through the morning sun. We would grab coffee. Get on the boat. The lake is still like glass. We would search for the crappie beds. Once you found them, bait the hook, cast a line, sit quietly, listen to the water splash on the sides of the pontoon, feel the gentle rocking of the boat, feel the warmth from the sun on your face, and watch the wildlife all around you. In that brief moment all is well and peaceful. He was right. I will miss these simple moments with my dad the most.          

Detroit Diesel Years

After the Marine Corps, Dad settled into public life working at Detroit Diesel in Michigan. He worked his way from a floor supervisor on the Series 92 engine line to a Senior Engineer responsible for several new Diesel engines. He made great friends with his Detroit Diesel family. 

I was extremely fortunate to spend three summers during my college years working at Detroit Diesel. I would make the long commute from Brighton to Detroit those days with my Dad and get a chance to see him in action while at work. 

Philippines Family

Grandpa Emmett emigrated from the Philippines in the early 30's. I was never quite sure of the exact story but somehow he ended up settling in Minnesota. Unfortunately, Grandpa Emmett never had a chance to travel back home to the Philippines and visit his family.

Dad was always extremely curious about his familial roots in the Philippines. Dad had kept a letter that Grandpa Emmett had received from his sister in the mid 1970's. Using the return address on the letter and the new information methods the Internet provided, Dad booked a trip to Boracay Philippines in 1998. He traveled to the other side of the world with no clue what he would find. He only had reservations to stay at a Hotel called Nigi Nigi Nu Noos

As luck would have it, Dad started telling his story to the hotel staff, and viola someone working at that hotel said "I know your Aunt!". 

Amazingly Dad travelled to Numanica Aklan on the island of Panay and was reconnected with his Aunt and various cousins.

Dad travelled back to the Philippines three times; every trip was an amazing adventure.

Retirement - Reunion

Dad retired from Detroit Diesel and spent several summers in Minnesota fishing and enjoying retirement. He returned to Detroit to work for a few Fall - Spring work periods as a contract engineer at Detroit Diesel/MTU after his retirement. He would have likely been spending summers in Minnesota and winter working in Michigan if it had not been for a remarkable reconnection.

In 2012 Dad received word that his High School sweetheart, Judy Filibeck, was interested in seeing how he was doing. He was living/working in Michigan at the time, so my wife and I were able to view Dad's reaction. It was quite funny, my seventy year old Dad acted like a shy teenager on the prospect of contacting let alone visiting Judy in Seattle.  

Dad was shy no more. He visited Judy in Seattle and they instantly reconnected. It was almost as though they had never been apart since High School.

It was a wonderful thing to see, my Dad was so immensely happy with Judy. You can see the happiness on their faces in the photos of them together.

They travelled around the US, Ireland, Hong Kong and the Philippines, spending summers in Minnesota and winter in Tucson Arizona.