Decades ago, Bob Layes served his country in the Navy during the Korean War. Today, the 85-year-old vet lives in Van Buren, Arkansas—and he continues to support his fellow servicemen through his devoted participation in his local veterans association.
“He’s leadership. He’s like the father of the post,” said Earl Duty, the commander of the Robert Jack Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post to KFSM.
“He’s at everything, every function we have and he’s just a good man, a good individual, got a good heart and we appreciate him very much.”
So when it came time for the post to unveil a new pavilion, they knew they could count on Layes to be there.
The veteran didn’t expect the surprises they had in store for him.
At the ceremony, Duty asked Layes for a favor:
“I wonder if you’d help me with something real quick,” Duty asked him.
“What’s that?” Bob replied.
“Would you help me uncover this for the pavilion?”
Of course, Layes agreed. But he doesn’t realize what he would be unveiling.
It was a new sign for the pavilion—with his name on it.
The post named the pavilion after him—a fitting honor for someone who’s given so much to his fellow veterans.
“He’s at every event,”Arkansas State Representative Charlene Fite explained to KFSM. “He’s always there, he’s always active.”
“To honor him in this way is such a privilege.”
Layes was stunned by the reveal. He never expected anything like this.
“I couldn’t believe it,” he told KFSM. “A bunch of sneaky people around here that do things behind your back, and it was something else.”
But an even bigger surprise was still to come.
Shortly after the unveiling, someone snuck up behind Bob and put his arm around him. At first Bob thought it was just one of the other veterans, but then he looked him in the face and broke down in tears of joy.
It was his son Jim, who he hadn’t seen in years.
Jim had traveled across the country to be there for his dad’s big day.
“He had not seen his son in several years, and for him to come from California, it was icing on the cake for Bob,” Representative Fite told KFSM.
Also in attendance were Mayor Bob Freeman and several other representatives.
To top it all off, they sang “Happy Birthday” to Bob, who celebrates his birthday September 3rd.
Overall it was a great way to honor an everyday hero who served his country and community, and Bob seemed touched by it all.