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Patriotic Display: Southwest General Health Center volunteer honors fallen heroes

Bob Sliwinski, a 73-year-old Vietnam veteran, has been comforting people at the hospital as a volunteer for 12 years.

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio — On any given day at Southwest General Health Center in Middleburg Heights, you'll find longtime volunteer, 73-year-old Bob Sliwinski, doing his best to make your day a little better.

"Back in 2010, I had a little bout of cancer in my face and forehead and they took care of me really well here, down the hall at the Seidman Cancer Center. So as a way of paying back for that, I decided to volunteer," Bob told us.

For the past 12 years, he's been a comfort to patients in their most vulnerable times.

"He makes everybody feel at home and comfortable here, not just our patients, but the employees and the visitors as well," said Bob's son-in-law, Tristan Harker, who also happens to be the chief of police at Southwest General. "Everybody knows Bob."

But what you may not know, is that Bob is a veteran himself.

"I was in the Army from 1968 to 1970...spent the first 13 months in different forms of training, and then I got shipped over to Vietnam and I was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division," Bob said.

You see in Bob's family, the valor runs deep.

"My father served, my father-in-law served, my son was in the Marines," he told us.

So on this Memorial Day, Bob wanted to find a way to honor those in the hospital who have served. And the fallen soldiers. It's a salute to their bravery and sacrifice.

"My friend Barry Clark, he and I were gonna join the army at the same time. At the last minute he decided not to, so I volunteered. He stayed back...a couple months later, he got drafted and after his infantry training and basic training, he got sent over to Vietnam and he was killed a few months after he got there by an RPG. So that's what this is all about," Bob said, holding back tears.

Though it's still tough to look back, Bob hopes the video in his display, produced by his whole family, brings peace to the other veterans at the hospital.

"I think it helps them talk about things from their past. So it's hard to describe. It's really hard to describe," Bob said.

Bravery, honor, and heroism. It's what Bob will remember for the rest of his life.

"I want thank the men and women that served our country, and I hope that this display for Memorial Day resonates with them. Whether they know somebody that was killed in the action or killed in the war, or just remind them how much we appreciate all the sacrifices that they may have made by being in the service," Bob said.

Bob, we thank you for your service.


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