Bob Fant was born in 1938 in Anderson, South Carolina. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on December 8, 1960, and went on active duty beginning January 16, 1961. His first assignment was as a Yeoman aboard the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CVS-10) from January to September 1961, followed by Officer Candidate School from September 1961 until he was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in February 1962. Ens Fant next served as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer aboard the destroyer USS Waller (DD-466) from February 1962 to July 1964, and then completed Naval Flight Officer training in June 1965. LtJg Fant then served as an Anti-Submarine Warfare Tactical Coordinator aboard P2V Neptune and P3B Orion aircraft with VP-26 at NAS Brunswick, Maine, from June 1965 to January 1967, followed by F-4 Phantom II Replacement Air Group training with VF-101 at NAS Key West, Florida, from January to June 1967. Lt Fant next served as an F-4 Radar Intercept Officer with VF-102 at NAS Oceana, Virginia, from June 1967 to May 1968, and then deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66) from May 1968 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on July 25, 1968. After spending 1,694 days in captivity, LCDR Fant was released during Operation Homecoming on March 14, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Portsmouth Naval Hospital, and then completed F-4 RAG training with VF-101 from October 1973 to July 1974. CDR Fant attended Armed Forces Staff College from February to July 1974, and then served as a Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Training Officer with Fleet Aviation Specialized Operational Training Group Atlantic at NAS Brunswick, Maine, from August 1974 to January 1977. His next assignment was with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from January to April 1977, and then with Patrol Wing 5 at NAS Brunswick from April 1977 to August 1978. CDR Fant's final assignment was on the staff of the Armed Forces Staff College from August 1978 until his retirement from the Navy on June 1, 1980. After his retirement from the Navy, Bob worked for the U.S. Forest Service before serving as a civilian Survival Training Specialist with the U.S. Navy Survival School at NAS Brunswick from 1981 to 2005.
His Legion of Merit w/Valor Citation reads:
For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from July 1968 to March 1973. Under the most adverse of conditions, he resisted all attempts by the North Vietnamese to use him in causes detrimental to the United States, never wavering in his devotion and loyalty to the United States and his fellow prisoners. Despite the adversities of confinement, he performed such duties and responsibilities as assigned by superiors and required of the Code of Conduct in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Displaying extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and dedication throughout this period of imprisonment, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.
The Combat Distinguishing Devise is authorized.