Bob Stover’s Military Past Enlightens the Lives of Those He Touches Everyday as a Chaplain at Renown Health.
A 19-year-old ensign stood in the rubble of Hiroshima in October of 1945. As he stared at the destruction around him, a few Japanese children approached in the hope that he had a bar of chocolate. In his head, a song started to play, a song he hadn’t thought about since he was a child in Sunday school. “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world.”
Sixty-nine years later Bob Stover, one of the chaplains at Renown Health, stood at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. surrounded by his fellow veterans as a member of the Honor Flight that left northern Nevada on April 24. “I was impressed by the stories those guys shared,” recalls Stover. “We came from all different branches of service and so we all had different experiences.”
According to The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly 550 World War II veterans pass away each day. The Honor Flight Nevada program works to transport these men and women to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials erected in honor to their service and sacrifice. Stover was part of a group of 30 World War II veterans from Nevada who participated in this Honor Flight.
For Stover, standing there at the memorial brought back memories both pleasant and tough. From serving with Johnny Carson, to the time he fell at his captain’s feet due to rough seas during a storm, to remembering the boys who hit the beach first and never came home. “It was an honor to go there and commemorate the sacrifices that were made by hundreds of thousands of people during the war.”
In addition to visiting the World War II Memorial, the veterans also visited the United States Naval Academy and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Wall held special meaning for Stover who retrieved an etching of the name of a boy whom he had the privilege of baptizing and the honor of presiding over his funeral.
For Stover, who has been a Presbyterian minister for 62 years and has served as a minister at St. John´s Presbyterian Church in Reno since 1993, the trip was about much more than remembering the past. “I didn’t go on this trip for healing,” shares Stover. “I went to help others and to bring that experience back to the people I serve in the Reno community and at Renown Spiritual Care.”
He was just a boy when he went overseas — just a boy in charge of damage control and gunnery and the lives of his men. A lifetime later, the boy is gone but the memories remain. “That was why I became a minister, those children amidst all that destruction, and that song.”