Best Friends to the End

Princeton, Indiana, native Dick Wolfe and Alabama native Robert Hilley could have never imagined being thrown together in the cauldron of combat in Vietnam. Yet, destiny brought them together in July of 1967 at a primitive fire base about thirty-five miles from Saigon. They soon became fast friends, serving in the same mortar squad in Alpha Company. Dick wrote often to his family back home about his friend Bob Hilley and their adventures.

Best friends Robert Hilley (left) and Dick Wolfe.

Dick also took dozens of photos of Hilley, and there were a few where another squad member took photos of the two of them horsing around or taking an all-so-rare break from the war at some large and safe base camp. From these sources—letters and photos—my wife, Roxanne, and I constructed Dick Wolfe’s incredible and tragic story in a book titled Summer Wind: A Soldier’s Road from Indiana to Vietnam.  Unfortunately, Dick’s story was also Bob Hilley’s, the two men dying as they stood side-by-side, fighting the enemy. Roxanne and I recently pulled out Bob Hilley’s particular part in the Wolfe letters and wrote an article for the journal Alabama Heritage, one we wish to share.