By: John Cuddy – Aug. 2021
Dracut’s Bob and Jeanette (Jenny) Iby, celebrated their 75th Wedding Anniversary on July 4, 2021. Married on July 4, 1946, after Bob finished his tour with the US Army Air Corp, as a Bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress.
The couple attended high school together in Burlington, VT, and corresponded regularly throughout World War II. Bob’s parents moved to Dracut, and after the war, he took the train back to Vermont nearly every weekend to visit her. At the urging of his father, he proposed.
Both of their families have an extensive legacy of Military Service. Bob’s dad, Guy Iby, was a World War I Infantryman, wounded in the trenches of France. Both of Bob’s brothers served, older brother Richard was badly injured teaching hand to hand combat training, with the US Army during World War II, and died of his injuries a short time later.
Younger brother Wendell served in the Korean War with the US Army. Jenny’s brother Robert, also served during the Second World War with the US Army Air Corp. Two of the couple’s six children, their son Jack and their daughter Paula, served in the US Air Force during the Vietnam War. Their granddaughter Holly also served in the US Air Force.
Bob told me today of the lifetime bond he formed with his crewmates, he stated that from date of enlistment, to first mission, for a B-17 Bomber crew, it took the US Army Air Corp around 24 months to completely train a crew. As the Bombardier, he had two basic jobs, supervise the loading and arming of the bombs, and once over a target, taking control over the aircraft, “piloting it” to the target using the bomb sight. World War II ended before he could fly his first combat mission.
After leaving the service, Bob worked thirty-seven and a half years at General Electric in Lowell. He served in the newly formed US Air Force Reserves until 1950. After the war, Bob learned to fly at the now closed Dracut Airport, and he and Jenny would fly to Burlington, Vermont on Sunday afternoons to have dinner with her parents. Jenny, the mother of six children, told me she was very proud of her career choice of being a full-time mother. Bob used to leave GE during his lunch just to spend 15 minutes with his family.
The couple raised their six children first living in Lowell, then in 1967, the family moved to Dracut. Their children include Paula, Jack and Jill, who are twins, Robin, Bob, and Eric. While trying to learn more about Bob and Jenny, the conversation drifted to the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren. Bob and Jenny have twelve grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.
Both Bob and Jenny’s faces lit up with they told me about attending auto races at the Dracut Speedway, often sneaking Bob’s brother Wendell in, hiding him in the trunk of the car. Sadly, the Dracut Speedway closed in 1955.
Family friend, State Rep Colleen Garry-D, Dracut/Tyngsboro, recalled seeing the couple walking around Dracut, always “hand and hand”. At their 75th Anniversary Party, Bob and Jenny told Representative Garry, they wake every morning to Bob singing, usually “You are my Sunshine” to Jenny. Still very much in love after 75 years.
I’ve met dozens of Veterans and their spouses these past four years, while working for the Valley Patriot, but the bond between these two, Bob and Jenny Iby, is special, and represents well, America’s Greatest Generation!
The Dracut American Legion asks all World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War Veterans, to call (603) 518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC! Veterans of all eras are asked to go the American Legion’s Web site www.legion.org, and join the American Legion, preserving our Veteran’s Benefits for future generations.
John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 24 years. If you know a World War II veteran who would like their story told, please email him at John.Cuddy@Yahoo.com ◊