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Bobby Wayne Armes
The Pine Tree, Concord College yearbook, 1968

West Virginia Veterans Memorial


Bobby Wayne Armes

"The Vietnam War was like a wound that would never heal."

Ed Sanders

Bobby Wayne Armes was born May 19, 1946, in Mavisville, Virginia, to Perry and Retha Wampler Armes. Bobby had an older brother, Robert Armes, who would enlist into the U.S. Air Force in 1958 when Bobby was in junior high. His family moved to Sophia, West Virginia, when he was quite young. He attended Sophia Elementary School, where he was a member of Troop 75 of the Boy Scouts. He was also a member of the 4-H Club and was recognized for his efforts for bird conservation in the Beckley Post-Herald and Register. He was very active at Sophia High School, participating in all four years on the student council and one year as class president. He also joined the pep club, the yearbook staff, Future Teachers of America, and the prom committee. He was elected to the National Honor Society, was a delegate for the West Virginia Association of Student Councils his senior year, and was named valedictorian of his class in 1964. Bobby attended Concord College in Athens, West Virginia, where he majored in biology and chemistry and was a member of the Theta Xi fraternity. Bobby made the Dean"s List each year in college and received his bachelor of science degree in 1968.

Early in his college years, Bobby was walking to a dance being held at the Little Beaver Campground. He put his thumb out with the hope that someone might pick him up for the remainder of the trip. A car pulled over with two girls in it; one of them was Carmen Ellen Hutchens from Beckley, West Virginia. Carmen worked as a salesclerk at the time and was in high school at Woodrow Wilson. They would marry in Pearisburg, Virginia, on May 4, 1968. That summer he and Carmen spent the summer at Holly River State Park in Hacker, West Virginia, where he worked as a naturalist. He had been accepted to pursue graduate studies at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, but received his draft notice and would start Army training in September.

That same year Bobby and Carmen had a son, Michael Dane Armes, who was born on December 18, 1968, at Raleigh General Hospital. Bobby returned from Army training for two weeks and was able to be there for the birth of Michael. He did not have much time to spend with his wife and newborn son before having to return to complete his initial training. Before he left he bought his newborn son a football and hoped to teach his son upon his return. Bobby returned to Fort Riley, Kansas, to complete his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) 13E, Field Artillery Fire Direction Specialist. He was shipped directly to Vietnam and sent to a replacement center where he would be assigned to a unit in that country.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam started in November of 1955 and ended April 30, 1975, with the height of the action known as the Vietnam War taking place during the late 1960s and early 1970s. At this time there was high tension between the United States and Soviet Union, which was known as the Cold War. The Viet Minh was a Chinese-backed group led by Ho Chi Minh that controlled North Vietnam. South Vietnam was highly vulnerable to attacks by the North and was ill prepared for any invasion. The spread of communism was happening at a rapid pace in this region of the world. The American involvement began with military advisors, but later required the military and CIA to crack down on the Viet Minh sympathizers, who became known as the Viet Cong. On August 2, 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred, which was the first clash between U.S. forces and North Vietnam. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution granting President Lyndon B. Johnson authority to build and command troops for the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War itself was not popular among both the civilians of Vietnam and the United States. Many innocent civilians and soldiers were being slaughtered: almost three million were killed during the Vietnam War including 58,000 American soldiers. This resulted in many anti-war protests being held, like the one at the Pentagon by 35,000 demonstrators in: October 1967. In January 1973, Vietnam and the United States signed a peace agreement. All U.S. forces left with the exception of Marines protecting the U.S. Embassy in Saigon. The North continued to violate the peace agreement and eventually took over all of Vietnam with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

Corporal Bobby Wayne Armes started his tour of Vietnam on February 7, 1969, with Alpha Battery, 6th Battalion, 11th Field Artillery, 11th Light Infantry Brigade, 23rd Infantry Division, which was known as the Americal Division. Bobby"s unit was attacking Hill 4-11 in Duc Pho, Quang Ngai province South Vietnam. On August 3, 1969, the unit was moving up the hill with infantry and tanks to clear a path to move artillery guns up the hill. The resistance on the hill was heavy and the unit had several small-arms engagements. Later into the day a firefight broke out when a tank hit a land mine, destroying its tracks as the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) attacked the Americans, losing dozens of men and taking several American lives. Cpl. Armes was attempting to carry a South Vietnamese interpreter to safety when he was struck by rifle fire. He was reported killed in action (KIA) on sight, dying instantly from the AK-47 7.62 caliber rounds that struck him. ("Jungle Warriors," Fire Support Base Hill 4-11, accessed 19 October 2020, At the age of 23, not even in the Army for a year, Bobby was killed, leaving behind a wife and son.

Cpl. Bobby Wayne Armes"s body was taken to Dover, Delaware, where his wife"s uncle, Sergeant Donald Marshall, escorted him back to West Virginia. Bobby"s funeral was held at the Sophia First Baptist Church. A military detail from Fort Lee, Virginia, provided full military rites when Bobby was laid to rest at Sunset Memorial Park in Beckley, West Virginia. His name is engraved on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Panel 20W, Line 91. He is also memorialized on the West Virginia War Memorial. A trail at Holly River State Park is dedicated to him, and his name will also be placed on the Blue Hawk Fallen Hero Memorial in Sophia, West Virginia. (Gailyn Jackson, "Local Veterans Plan to Erect New Memorial in Sophia," Beckley Register-Herald, 27 October 2019, accessed 19 October 2020, He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnamese Civic Action Award, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation. ("Armes, Bobby Wayne, CPL," Together We Served, accessed 19 October 2020,

Article prepared by Luke Nichols and SFC (Ret) Johnathan Normand, George Washington High School JROTC
October 2020


Bobby Wayne Armes

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