My Encounter With Robert Garwood, Part I of a Two Part Series by Ron Charest

On 9/25/07 I received the following in an e-mail from Ron Charest regarding Robert Garwood.

Dear Gunny G,

I happened to spot your website post from Dec 2005 concerning the whereabouts of Robert Garwood. Robert moved next door to me in the Mississippi town of Gautier in April of 2000, just days after his wife Cathi passed on.

I am sorry to tell you this, but Robert Garwood is no friend of mine. When he first moved in, all I knew of him was that he was a recent widower, former marine, and new neighbor. I welcomed him to our community and treated him as a friend. Within two years Robert destroyed my marriage, spread lies about me more vile than anything I could have once imagined possible, and generally turned my life upside down.

I have just published a full accounting of my encounter with this man at my personal website. If you care to read it, the link is here”

“My Encounter With Robert Garwood, Part I”

“My Encounter With Robert Garwood, Part II”

Please use this info and contact me as you feel is appropriate.

Respectfully Yours,
Ron Charest
ETCS(SS), USN (Ret.)


I read the story, corresponded with him and asked permission to link to my Gunny G webpages, and he kindly consented.
Ron’s contact info is as follows:


This a short excerpt of a much longer, in-depth and thorough story, to continue to the rest of the story please use the url/links provided.
Thank You


My Encounter with Robert Garwood, Part I
Part I of a Two Part Series

(Page: 1/8)

This narrative is about my personal experience with Robert (Bobby) Russell Garwood, PFC, USMC, DD. This story, as painful as it has been for me, is written for and dedicated to the many people who served our nation in the Vietnam war. There are many people still today who belive our nation abandonded our servicemen and women after the hostilities between North Vietnam and the US officially ended.

For those people who still belive, who still search for loved ones who never returned home, I hope one day they find the answers they deserve.


These are the known facts about Robert:

In the summer of 1965, 19 year old Marine PFC Robert Russell Garwood served as a staff driver for the G-2 Intelligence section of the Third Marine Division in Da Nang, South Vietnam.

On September 28, with just 10 more days to complete his tour in Vietnam, Robert Garwood left the base and subsequently fell into the hands of the Viet Cong. During the remainder of the time US Forces were actively involved in South Vietnam, Robert was spotted by U.S. Prisoners Of War (POW) in various camps. Robert Garwood was not among the POWs sent back to the US when POWs were repatriated after hostilities between the US and North Vietnam was concluded.

On 9 February 1979 the U.S. State department was informed that on 1 February, Mr. Ossi Rahkonen, a Finnish national who worked for the World Bank headquarters in Washington, had been passed a note in the Thang Loi (Victory) Hotel in Hanoi by PFC Robert Russell Garwood, USMC.

PFC Garwood subsequently returned to the United States and subsequently tried by military court martial under articles of the UCMJ. ON 5 February 1981 PFC Garwood was found guilty on five specifications:

  1. That he served as an interpreter for the enemy.
  2. That he was camp “mole” and informed on his fellow American POWs to the VC and NVA;
  3. That he interrogated US POWs about military topics, including planning for any escapes;
  4. That he helped indoctrinate POWs and suggested that they “cross over” to the enemy as he had done
  5. That he had served as a guard for the enemy over his fellow US POWs.

He was ordered reduced to Private (E1), given a dishonorable discharge from the USMC, and forced to forfeit all back pay and allowances of almost $150,000.

On 3 June 1985 the Court of Military Appeals upheld Garwood’s court-martial conviction for offenses committed from 1965 – 1969. On 2 December 1985 the Supreme Court announced that it had declined to take the case of United States v. Robert R. Garwood. Case closed. (1)

What Robert actually did during the years he was in Vietnam has been the subject of extreme controversy ever since his return. There is more controversy surrounding events he has been involved in since returning to the U.S. But what is not controversial is what happened during my personal encounter with him.

In October, 1999, Robert Garwood and his wife Cathi purchased the house next door to mine in the small town of Gautier, Mississippi. Without knowing anything about him other than he was a new neighbor and recent widower, I welcomed him and treated him as a friend.  Within two years, Robert would destroy my marriage, attempt to smear me with the most vile lies I’ve ever been a victim of, and generally turn my life upside down.

(1) References:

    Prisoners of War and Missing In Action, POW MIA website.

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GnySgt USMC (Ret.) 1952--'72 PC: History, Poly-Tiks, Military, Stories, Controversial, Unusual, Humorous, etc.... "Simplify...y'know!"
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6 Responses to My Encounter With Robert Garwood, Part I of a Two Part Series by Ron Charest

  1. buzznot1012 says:

    I can’t figure what the author would want a public record of this nature available for the world to read. The Robert Garwood who was a POW from 1965-1979 was said to have an IQ of 82. So, he duped and dominated the life of this intelligent author? And why stretch this sordid tale over eight “chapters”? Wife cheats on husband with blowhard neighbor — enf of story. The narrator paints himself (unintentionally, I’m sure) in a very unflattering light. Whatever he accuses Garwood of doing or being, the author comes off as very petty and vengeful, powerless and possessed of unaccountably lethargic problem-solving skills. Basically, this “saga” reads like a smear.

  2. Gunny G says:

    Everyone is entitled to and has an opinion!

    Likewise–why “smear” the author?

    Why not read it, and peacefully take it in yer stride and do no harm…

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  5. old1 says:

    When you see the neighbors outside smile and give them a small wave and drive on! Keep that invisible line between you and them!

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