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Arkansans Behind the Flag: Robert G. "Bob" Abb

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin at the beginning of the “Roaring Twenties”, Robert G. “Bob” Abb was destined to make his mark on American and aviation history. Like many young men of that era, Bob decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. However, once Pearl Harbor was attacked, his service took him to a more serious level. By this time Private Abb was now a Lieutenant, and he was ready to fly.

The U.S. Army had been experimenting with military aviation since World War One, and in the 1930s, had produced some impressive bombers one of which was the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Bob Abb began training to become a bombardier on one of these aircraft. After his certification, Lt. Abb was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force in the B-17F heavy bomber “Delta Rebel No. 2”. The 91st was tasked with the first daylight bombing runs, flying over the English Channel to hit German factories and other key military targets.

The famous "Memphis Belle" was also part of this group, and while both she and the “Rebel” are credited with scoring twenty-five combat missions, because of Abb’s detailed logbook account, it has been officially concluded that the “Rebel” was the first of these bombers to do so. Lieutenant Abb made many friends during his time in service at Bassingbourn, England. One of these included George Purnell Birdsong Jr. This man would go on to not only fly the “Rebel”, but in later years, he would also fly the B-47 and B-52 bombers. While Birdsong continued to fly, Abb was sent back to the states in 1943 to teach bombardier school in Boise, Idaho. Here he trained new recruits to use the Norden Bombsight preparing them for the tense combat conditions over Europe. During this time, he was reunited with the love of his life-Margaret Louise Loop-whom he married. Once the war ended, he retired from the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Lieutenant Colonel. He and Margaret moved to Sherman, Texas where they raised four children and established a successful sales company.

In his retirement years, Abb moved to Blue Eye, Missouri where he could easily drive into Arkansas to see his family. In addition to family and flying, Abbs also enjoyed fishing in the trout streams across the United States, especially in Wisconsin.

Sadly, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Abb died in Rogers, Arkansas August 26, 1982. His ashes were interred at Arlington National Cemetery as well as his beloved trout stream in Wisconsin.

Lieutenant Colonel Abb left an incredible legacy of faith, patriotism, and aviation to his family and generations of Americans to come.

April 2, 1920-August 26, 1982

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