Retired Major Bob Simmons, a Hometown Hero

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Bob Simmons always dreamed of becoming a pilot. But when he walked into the Air Force recruiting office 46 years ago, they told him there was one slight problem.

"They said, 'All our pilots are officers and all our officers have degrees.' I didn't have a degree," said Simmons, 64.

So Simmons decided to work as a mechanic in the Air Force for a few years instead. He quickly realized, however, his heart wasn't in it and flying was his true destiny. So, he eventually left the Air Force to get a degree at Texas Tech University. And finally, his dreams of being a pilot came true.

"I deployed in the C-130's all over the world, into Vietnam, into Korea, Japan, England, Germany, Italy," Simmons said.

Although he says traveling was definitely the highlight of his military career, he says he experienced a few hair-raising moments, as well.

"I was trying to take off out of Thule, Greenland one morning, it was actually very dark. It was during the winter and of course it's dark up there 24 hours a day. The runway (was) extremely slick and as I advanced the power to take off, I had a couple of engines on the right side of the aircraft accelerate a lot faster than the two on the left side. And we ended up going down the runway sideways. I was able to recover the aircraft as opposed to crashing it, but that was definitely the scariest portion of it," he said.

Simmons also says he will never forget the friends he lost in battle, especially one in particular.

"Over in Vietnam, I lost one. We actually grew up together in our hometown. He went into the Marines, went into Vietnam and was killed."

Simmons ultimately decided to make the Air Force a career. But even after 24 years of service and retiring as a major, he will never call himself a hero.

"(It's) a little overwhelming I guess, for anyone to think that I was a hero. It's just part of what I did. I don't consider myself a hero," said Simmons.

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