Indiana’s oldest state employee has lifetime of WWII stories

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. - Spend two minutes in Bob Vollmer’s home and you’ll experience history.

The World War II veteran still has his military issue M-1 rifle he carried in the Pacific. Part of his uniform still fits too.

Bob lives in Brown County now, but he served in the Navy as a  member of the See Bees, the naval construction battalions that built air strips and gun emplacements on captured Japanese islands. Bob often did his heroic work amidst sniper fire.

"I didn't think I'd make it, really I didn't think I'd make it,"  said Vollmer.

Bob also came away from his war experience with a firm understanding of its cost.

"This is the worse part of the war, you lose so many damn good men, good men, I helluva lot better than me,” said Vollmer.

Vollmer left the military as  a Chief Petty Officer.

He went to Purdue and eventually took a job as a surveyor for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Vollmer started that job more than 50 years ago and still goes to work every day.  That makes him the oldest full time state employee because Bob Vollmer turns 100 years old on May 20.

"What blows my mind is hearing some young kid saying hell there's nothing to do...I could think of a million things to do."

Bob doesn’t spend much time on his back porch.  But when he does, he’ll tell you stories and teach you what he’s learned in his 100 years.

“I can take  a thousand people out of every country and leave the leaders...just people like us, and you're going to find people of every type, good ones, bad ones... everything.  I don't think human nature changes a bit."

The Governor awarded Bob the state’s highest honor, the Sagamore of the Wabash last year. He earned that award with a simple philosophy that everyone could follow.

"You gotta do with what you got.  If you can't get it than do it anyway."

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