Robert C. Bergin


Robert C. Bergin

Bob Bergin, like his beloved cats, had many lives. While a student at Villanova in English Lit he enlisted in the U.S. Army, the sole GI on the troop carrier to Japan not to be seasick in a typhoon. He rode his beloved Yamaha motorcycle all over Japan, taught English to high school students and rode cross country on the Yamaha on his return to the U.S.

Bob joined the Foreign Service, interrupting his MA studies in English Lit at Georgetown University and his sky-diving hobby, to begin Vietnamese language studies. He had volunteered for his posting in Saigon and witnessed firsthand the TET offensive and the attack on the U.S. Embassy. Tours in Thailand (twice), Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya followed.

In 1986, he and his wife Monique, started their Asian antique business, Banana Tree. They opened their shop on King Street in Alexandria in 1988. When not hunting art treasures for Banana Tree, Bob pursued other interests in Asia. He worked closely with the Foundation for the Development of Thai Aircraft and with groups involved with the recovery of WWII aircraft in Asia. He maintained a special interest in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) “Flying Tigers”, one of the most effective and colorful combat units in the history of aerial warfare. His many articles on these subjects are often referenced.

In recent years his writing interest expanded to include OSS and Free Thai operations. On visits to China, he pursued interests in WWII aviation and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). He is the first American writer to be given interviews with senior PLAAF combat pilots, including a leading MIG-15 ace, and a PLAAF attack pilot involved with China’s nuclear program who became the pilot to drop China’s first H-Bomb. The resulting article published by the Smithsonian Air and Space magazine was selected by the New York Times for their weekly Must Read Section.

Bob wrote 4 novels, all set in Asia, and numerous short stories, two of which appeared in Evergreen Review.

He moved on to his next life on June 9, age 83, where hopefully there are airplanes, Thai food, good word processors, old friends and cats.

Offer Condolence for the family of Robert C. Bergin

Condolence Messages

  1. Webb Naas and Renee Trent says:

    Dear Monique,
    We just learned of Bob’s death. Please accept our deepest condolences. Memories of dropping into The Banana Tree are as fresh as yesterday. You knew my interests, and would direct me to your latest find. Than, I would arrive at the counter, and Bobo would update me on his latest “find”. I cherish the memory of those conversations and am so grateful to have had them.
    Blessed Be His Memory.
    Out thoughts are with you.

  2. Webb Naas and Renee Trent says:

    Dear Monique,
    We just learned of Bob’s death. Please accept our deepest condolences. Dropping into The Banana Tree seems like a memory from yesterday. You know my interests and would direct me to your latest find. I would arrive at the counter, and Bob would update me on his latest “find'”.
    I cherish the memory of those conversations and am so grateful to have had them.
    Blessed be his Memory.
    Our thoughts are with you.

  3. Gary M. Miller says:

    My condolences to Monique and friends of Bob as he was a talented writer and a good friend. Gary Miller

  4. John bestic says:

    I had the pleasure of working for twice for Bob during his career. He was one of three “best bosses” I encountered in 40 years of military and foreign service. Honest, decisive and understandably, given his academic background, a walking word
    smith where language was involved – which ironically drove others nuts.

    While a renaissance character of sorts, Bob’s best choice/quality was Monique. Sorry to see him pass; one of the certifiable great guys….

  5. Chuck Bernard says:

    Bob was invariably eager to meet for brunch at the Silver Diner and update on his latest projects. As old friend and colleague I was amazed at the depth and breadth of his interests.
    Some of his quotes from his interest in the “Flying Tigers” are memorable- “”Pappy” Boyington could have been an “ace” for the Japanese, because of the five P-40s he totaled when with the AVG before his well publicized service as a Marine pilot…

  6. Chuck Bernard Jr says:

    As a skydiver, pilot, friend and fan of Asian history, I miss Bob already.

  7. David H. says:

    In our lives are always some who embody traits that we especially admire. Bob Bergin was such a man. My sincere condolences are extended to Monique and the family.

  8. Joe Kiehl says:

    I served with Bob in Kenya and we stayed in touch over the years. I last visited him at his shop on King Street years ago. He was a terrific colleague and friend with whom I shared many valued memories of good, interesting and exciting times.

  9. Timothy Carney says:

    Condolences at Bob’s death. We knew each other in Saigon and in a later posting when he gave me his full name. Wry sense of humor and fine man.

    With deepest sympathy,
    Tim Carney

  10. Evans family says:

    We are saddened to learn about the loss of your loved one. Continue to rely on God and know that he hears your prayers, because he cares for you. Truly sorry for your loss.

  11. Evans family says:

    We can’t begin to imagine what you are feeling, but please let us share our heartfelt condolences. May you draw comfort from God as he help you to cope with the heavy weight of your loss. Our condolences.

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