MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. --
The man credited with establishing the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, took his final ride down Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow’s Joseph Boll Avenue June 9, as part of a memorial service honoring his life as a Marine, husband, father and accomplished horseman.
Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Lindsley, U.S. Marine Corps retired, passed away May 4, approximately two weeks after having the MCLB Barstow Base Stables renamed in his honor.
During the service, held in the Marine Memorial Chapel aboard base, members of his family, friends and those he came in to contact with during his lifetime, took time out of their busy schedules to eulogize the man they had come to love and admire.
“He was very honored and humbled to have the stables named after him,” said his daughter, Nikki Wattier, while delivering her eulogy. “As a matter of fact, he joked about it saying ‘this honor was usually reserved for those who have been deceased. I guess the Marine Corps got tired of waiting.’”
She said that her father had a great sense of humor and that he had three great loves in his life: his family, the Marine Corps and horses. He owned and operated a fully functional horse ranch in Yermo, Calif., complete with trail rides and boarding stables, for more than 20 years.
Although he had only known him just a short time, Base Commanding Officer Col. Daniel Ermer, learned how much Lindsley loved the Corps and how he loved being around horses and the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. During his opening remarks, he relayed a story about Lindsley that was passed on to him, referring to a time while on active duty that Lt. Col. Lindsley made preparations for the Mounted Color Guard to participate in a parade. Upon arriving to the site, Lindsley had accounted for everything needed for the Marines and the horses except one thing; his own uniform.
“In those days for a Marine to go on liberty he had to go in uniform. Lt.Col. Lindsley came upon a young Marine and asked him to give up his uniform, which he did, and the colonel gave him fifty bucks for it. The young Marine had fifty bucks to spend but no pockets to put it in.”
The memories of “Col. Bob”, as he was affectionately known in the community, continued with Master Gunnery Sgt. James Griner USMC (ret.), who served with Lindsley aboard MCLB Barstow during the 1960s.
After a brief history lesson of MCLB Barstow, Griner talked about their individual duties as Marines stationed aboard the base. Griner was responsible for all enlisted Marines checking in to Material Division during his time here. Lt. Col Lindsley was the Officer in Charge of the Warehousing Branch and, according to Griner, wanted to see every enlisted man checking in.
“He had a lot of pride in the Mounted Color Guard and I suspect, although I couldn’t prove it, that he was recruiting Marines for the Color Guard,” he said jokingly with a hint of seriousness.
Griner said that those were the good days in Barstow when there were a lot more Marines than there are now, at which time he turned toward the cremated remains of Lt. Col Lindsley and said “Lieutenant Colonel Lindsley I salute you one more time. God speed and I know you will fulfill your new assignment.”
Gunnery Sergeant Pete McConnell, the current Staff Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Mounted Color Guard, had his turn at the podium and before reading a proclamation from First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, County of San Bernardino; he had a story to tell of his first meeting with the “Colonel.”
“When I came aboard to check out the stables and the color guard, my predecessor, Gunnery Sergeant Collazo-Sanchez told him that they were going out to meet the man. ‘The Man?’ I thought. I already have the job so why are we going to meet this guy?” he said jokingly. “When I met Lieutenant Colonel Lindsley he asked did I have any experience with horses and I said ‘Yes, I was the NCOIC of Camp Pendleton’s Mounted Color Guard’; that was my first mistake.”
McConnell revealed that Lindsley was kind enough to inform him, in no uncertain terms, that Camp Pendleton’s color guard was not an official unit recognized by Headquarters Marine Corps. After a few more hours of education, several beverages, and more, McConnell left Lindsley’s home with a full appreciation of THE Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard and the man who started it all.
The service ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps”; full honors for the man who “was a very special Marine who walked among the giants of the Corps,” as said by retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel Danny Strand, now director of MCLB Barstow’s Security and Emergency Services Department.
Lindsley’s remains and final march down Boll Ave., along with his family and friends, was escorted by Gunny Sgt. McConnell, leading the riderless horse with boots turned backwards in the stirrups symbolizing a fallen leader, and the Mounted Color Guard, signaling the end of an era and the closing of another chapter in Marine Corps lore.