My grandfather retired at Fort Rucker in 1985 as the last active duty WWII aviator. But he never really left. He was always giving speeches, attending events, consulting and training new pilots. A while back you may have heard about the Army making an effort to rename some military bases after soldiers who were not traitors. About time really. As of this morning they officially renamed Rucker to Fort Novosel. There's a pretty thorough account of my grandfather's military career online to explain the choice, but it's in three parts because it spans a few decades.
There's a lot of my grandfather wrapped up in Robo. It's why he's short. It's why he throws himself at danger to save lives. It's why he's funny. I only realized this about a year after we finished the first volume. Robo was a culmination of a lifetime of ideas about adventure and heroics. Scott and I were finalizing the basic idea of the series the same year my grandfather passed away. It didn't make sense that he could die. Of course I reinvented him as soon as he was gone.
In a particularly odd twist of fate, Scott spent some time in Rucker's aviation program back in the '90s and almost certainly would have encountered my grandfather years before we met. There's no way he'd remember a random old Army guy from 30 years ago, of course. But still. Small world.
It's been well over a decade and I'm still occasionally surprised that he's gone. He was simply indomitable.