Robert Helle was born in 1948 in Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 30, 1967, and completed basic training at MCRD San Diego, California, in November 1967. Pvt Helle next attended infantry training at MCB Camp Pendleton, California, from November 1967 to January 1968, followed by service as an anti-tank assault infantryman and flamethrower gunner with Headquarters & Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division in South Vietnam from February 1968 until he was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War on April 24, 1968. After spending 1,788 days in captivity, Sgt Helle was released during Operation Homecoming on March 16, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, and then was medically retired from the Marine Corps on January 18, 1974.
His Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads:
For heroic achievement while interned as a Prisoner of War in Southeast Asia from April 1968 to March 1973. Sergeant Helle demonstrated his professional competence, unwavering devotion, and loyalty to the United States by continuously resisting an enemy who ignored all international agreements concerning the treatment of prisoners of war. Despite the harsh treatment under extreme adverse conditions of captivity, he continued to perform his duties during the long years of his incarceration in a highly professional manner. Displaying courage, resourcefulness, and dedication, Sergeant Helle reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.