The Hampton Bays School District honors a local veteran every month of the school year by flying an American flag in their honor. Throughout the month of March, the district paid such tribute to Vietnam veteran Robert Fabula. “The district is proud to honor Mr. Fabula for his bravery and service to the United States,” Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen said.
Fabula was recognized with a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on March 16. Highlights of the event included a reading of his biography, musical presentations by the Hampton Bays Middle School Harmonizers and readings of Elks Americanism essays written by middle school students Paige Hopson and Kyli Villa. The ceremony culminated with a special high school diploma presented to Fabula, followed by the raising of the flag in his honor.
He grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey. Self-reliant as a youth, his schooling ended after the seventh grade, and he joined the Marine Corps in 1965 at the age of 17. The Marines provided him with structure and focus, and he proudly graduated from boot camp at Parris Island in the rank of private first class.
After boot camp, he went to Camp Geiger in North Carolina for infantry training and then an assignment to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. After six months of cruising the Mediterranean, Fabula volunteered for Vietnam. Once he turned 18, the age required to volunteer, he served a one-year tour in Vietnam with Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines.
In Vietnam, Fabula was a fire-team leader for a four-man group on numerous insurgency patrols that included eight named operations. His first posting was Chu Lai, where he was promoted to lance corporal and then corporal. He also received his GED during this time.
After Chu Lai, Fabula was assigned to a listening post in Da Nang and was charged with detecting encroaching Viet Cong. His job was to clear the jungle of hostiles, which included villagers who seemed peaceful during the day but turned violent at night. To help distinguish between genuine civilians and sneaky Viet Cong, the Marines required trusted villagers to carry a light at night; those caught without a lamp were presumed to be Viet Cong.
In July 1967, at the age of 19, Fabula returned to the United States and was promoted to sergeant. He was assigned to the Military Police Corps at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia, and remained in this position until his honorable discharge on March 20, 1969, the day before his 21st birthday.
Since leaving the military, Fabula has worked for Bayonne General Cable, Bayonne City Parks, Clorox Company, Giants Stadium, Chateau Construction and the Town of Southampton. He and his wife Susan are now retired, and he is an active member of American Legion Hand-Aldrich Post 924 and the Knights of Columbus in Hampton Bays.