Story By Rick Lanier / Photos By LIVE Lee Staff
Most days you will find Bob Funk at the “office” paying the rent, unselfishly doing what he does best –– helping people achieve what they want or need in life by helping them convey or decipher the meaning of their message. Bob Funk is a true communicator, a Radioman by trade, a craft he learned and mastered during a 22-year career in the United States Navy.
The secret, according to Funk? “Listening twice as much as you speak.”
A rare art these days, but Funk is an expert.
A review of Funk’s impressive and decorated military career shows he graduated boot-camp in Orlando, Florida, in 1971, and then was whisked off to the Vietnam War onboard the USS Oklahoma City (CGL-5) where his service began in earnest.
Funk graduated Radioman technical schooling in 1972 and was ordered to Rota, Spain, onboard the USS Simon Lake (AS-33). He received his first shore-duty assignment at the Naval Broadcasting Center in Pensacola, Florida, in 1976. Funk went back to sea in 1978 onboard the USS Sampson (DDG-10) stationed in Mayport, Florida, where he served as the Leading Petty Officer (LPO) of the Communications Department. From there, he was assigned to the guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN-39) from 1981 to 1986. Funk’s career would hit high gear when he reported to Yokosuka, Japan, for duty in 1987 at the Naval Communication Station where he served as a member of the National Security Agency (NSA) cadre until 1990. There he earned his anchors and the title of “Chief” with his promotion to the esteemed rank of Radioman Chief Petty Officer (E-7).
Finally, in 1991, with the clouds of conflict in Southwest Asia dotting America’s horizon, now Senior Chief (E-8) Funk’s illustrious career came to a close with the completion of Operation Desert Storm onboard USS Dixon (AS-37). Senior Chief Funk had completed three Mediterranean Sea deployments and two Western Pacific deployments.
Senior Chief Funk had been well prepared for his transition to the service of veterans and his local community.
“I joined the American Legion after my first duty assignment as a way to stay connected to my friends while being able to help others,” he said. “I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not done it.”
Today his “office” is the Legionnaire at Opelika’s John. H. Powell American Legion Post 18.
A war veteran and career military member, he is well equipped to help those struggling with the myriad challenges associated with the military-to-civilian transition. Thirty-plus years as a Legionnaire and former Commander of the Post gave Funk the knowledge to understand the nuances required in balancing veterans’ needs and the needs of his community.
A deadly tornado ravaged the Beauregard community in 2019 and Senior Chief Funk and the American Legion were there. He has been instrumental in the Legion’s participation with the local “Toys for Tots” drive over the years, the success of the Post’s Wednesday night Bingo game and the other fund-raising events designed to benefit community members and neighbors. More recently, when Hurricane Sally made landfall on Sept. 11 this year, wreaking havoc on the Gulf region, Post 18 committed financial and personnel resources to help those in need.
“Bob is the “glue” that holds us together,” said George Dowdy, current Post 18 Commander. “Everybody loves Bob, they understand him and he helps them to understand. He really is the personification of the meaning of service, and he helps all of us be the organization we are today.”
It is just who he is.