PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
Bob Odell was born in Dubuque, Iowa July 16th, 1918. He was the youngest of five daughters and two sons. His family moved to Pasadena, California in September of 1924 where he attended John Muir Technical High School. In 1935, he enlisted, at age 17, in the United States Navy. Three years into his career he met and married Carol Marion Loos on August 8, 1938 in Portland, Oregon. Bob graduated from the U.S. Navy submarine school in 1940 and was assigned to the U.S.S. R-one (SS78). The Odells have two sons, Robert Marvin who was born in the Panama Canal Zone, Panama while Bob served there, and Thomas L. who was born in San Francisco, California. The Odells also have four grandchildren, 3 boys and 1 girl and two great granddaughters.
Bob Odell served in the U S Navy from 1935 to 1966, retiring as a permanent Line Commander. Over half of his 31 year naval career was spent at sea in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters and included World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam conflicts. He was assigned to the destroyer Dale (DD353), and Fleet Aircraft Carriers Yorktown (CV-5) and Bunker Hill (CV-17). Two assignments aboard the large heavy cruiser Fall River (CA131) and one on the Helena (CA-75). He was Weapons Officer on the guided missile research and testing vessel Norton Sound (AVM1). In July 1937, the Destroyer Dale was part of the group of ships ordered to the South Pacific in search of the lost Aviatrix Amelia Earhart. In December 1937, the Japanese in Shanghai, China sank the Navy Ship Panay and two support ships. The Dale was then directed to go to general quarters and begin patrolling off the Southern California coast.
After graduating from submarine school in 1940, Bob served on the submarines R-1 (SS-78), S-12 (SS-117) and S-16 (SS121). After the Pearl Harbor attack he was assigned for duty on the new submarine USS Runner (SS-275). He served on the Bunker Hill (CV17) with task forces 38 and 58, participating in 34 major battles and operations from the Coral Sea to Okinawa, Japan. Upon the surrender of the Japanese in 1945, the Fall River was the flagship for inspecting and securing all Japanese ports and harbors. It was also the flagship for the first group of atomic bombs tested at the “Crossroads” operation, Bikini Atoll, where Bob was the general quarters “Officer of the Deck” for all tests.
Bob was selected to attend a post graduate management course at Stanford University beginning in September 1950. On July 4 of that year he was re-assigned to sea duty when the Korean War broke out and missed the school. However, during his long career Bob attended 75 various civilian and military training and technical courses for enlisted men and officers. Bob served on numerous navy operational and training staffs including Advanced Naval Training Schools, Treasurer Island, CA, Recruit Training Command, San Diego, CA, and Universal Military Training (Experimental Unit for President Harry S. Truman), San Diego, CA. As an underway-training supervisor and instructor, he trained 168 ships. Through the Fleet Training Group, San Diego, CA, he trained 145 U. S. and foreign ships. Through the Fleet Training Group in Yokosuka, Japan, an additional 23 ships were trained. At the Special Weapons Training Command, Sandia Base, New Mexico, he was both Instructor and Chief of the Visitor’s Bureau. At Port Arguello and Vandenberg Air Force base (both in California), he was the Assistant Range Safety Officer for the Pacific Missile Range. He also served in the capacity of Bureau of Ordinance Special Project Officer for development and installation of a new weapons control system for navy ships, Baltimore, MD. His final training position was Executive Officer of the Naval Schools Command, Mare Island, CA.
Besides the Submarine Qualifications Device, Bob Odell was awarded 32 medals including the Presidential Unit Citation with the Bronze Combat Star and the Navy Commendation Medal with Bronze Combat “V”. A total of 21 personal commendations were received, including one from the Commander, Cruiser Division Three, with a further recommendation for a Bronze Star Medal with Bronze Combat Star.
His civilian careers included serving as Assistant Program Manager for Librascope Engineering Company in Glendale, CA, as well as Real Estate sales in the San Fernando Valley and Paradise, CA. He thoroughly enjoys volunteering his time as a docent at the Legion of Valor Museum, churches and in local schools in Fresno.