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    Posted August 14, 2014 by
    DanShelor
    Location
    Vicenza, Italy
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    In Memoriam

    My Time with Robin Williams...

     

    It was in late October of 2002 when Robin showed up at our camp to perform for the troops. It was shortly after a bad divorce and after I had just re-enlisted in the Army… My last one… sworn at the embassy in Kabul.


    My commander had asked me what I wanted as a re-enlistment reward, and I told him without thinking too much about it, “I want a four day pass to go to Manas, Kyrgyzstan”. This coalition air base was where I had met a girl and fell madly in love with her during a visit there earlier in the month... Love at first sight. It’s hard to fathom… and I don’t expect many to buy it… or believe this story.

     

    I didn’t tell my captain that I wanted to go for a girl. Hell, he would have thought that I had lost my mind. I mean… I didn’t have her last name... just her first name, not phone number or anything… except an idea of where she lived... when I had walked her home. But, this pass was gonna send me on a mission to find her… and I had to… needed to… to tell her that “all I can think about… with every breathe… was her”. In that little moment in time… when I met her… I knew without a doubt… that I had found my one and only soulmate. And, I knew that if I found her again… she might think I’m crazy… but, it was something that I had to do. With this one chance… If I didn’t do this, I would regret it the rest of my life.

     

    He agreed to let me go, but… only on the condition that I had to fly out in the next three days… due to an upcoming mission. If I couldn’t get a hop (flight), I’d have to wait until after our redeployment back to the States. And, I had that bad feeling that it couldn’t wait that long… all could be lost… she told me she was leaving soon. So, I had it in my head that this was my only chance to find this girl… the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. It wasn’t just the beauty… it was her sense of humor… her personality… the wit and charm that seemed a perfect match to mine. She had a Force that could not be ignored… and, I was convinced that if she only knew me a little better that she would feel the same. This mission I swore to… was a mission of love… a love that I had never felt before in my whole entire life. With her, I had finally learned the difference between a crush, lust and love… a once in a lifetime love.


    I had gone to the MCT every morning at 0430 to find out the flight plans for the day and whether or not there was one to Manas. Each day as they told me no flights… I became more and more desperate and depressed. Monday, Tuesday… Wednesday… I was screwed… no flights! But, on that Wednesday (my last chance to do this 4-day pass thing), I asked to speak to the NCOIC. He came out and I told him…“Hey, I need that C-130 that’s listed on the board, why can I not get on that flight. It can’t be full can it?” and he responded…

     

    “It’s not full, but… if you want to get on THAT flight… You need to ask Robin Williams… it’s his dedicated plane”. Now, I saw he was messing with me… with that chummy sarcastic smile, but… with my desperate mind… All I could think about was… “I need to talk to Robin Williams… I need to get on that plane”.


    He had performed the night before for all the soldiers and airmen at our base and was hanging out at the VIP room that morning waiting for this Toro flight that was run by the Spanish. I had made my decision to talk to him and re-enforced the idea by repeating… “he’s just a man... he puts on his pants just like me.” So, as I approached the VIP rooms I was met by his tour manager and I asked… “Can I speak with Robin Williams” and he said, “Well, he’s not available right now. Can I help you with something else?” I said, “look, I don’t want an autograph… I’m not looking to bother him as a fan… I’m not asking for photos. I respect that he needs his space… I just want to ask a personal question… a favor of sorts… something that’s very important to me… I’ll be quick and on my way.”


    Robin had overheard our conversation and he stepped out onto the patio and introduced himself to me and said that he’d be happy to talk. I was in shock… as high as my hopes were… I had never really expected to actually talk to Robin Williams… one on one. I shook his hand and I began to tell him the story of how I met this Russian girl in Manas… and fell madly in love with her… and that I was just given permission… awarded a 4-day pass… to go to this base… with all hopes to find her. I know it sounds crazy… it’s actually quite ridiculous that during an operation I got side-tracked with a selfish venture of love. I told him that his flight… this Toro C-130 was the only one that I could take to get there and if I didn’t get on his plane… I would most likely never see this girl again. We would continue the mission and I would go back to the States and... She’d just be a memory and a photo.


    Robin looked at his tour manager and said… “Get this soldier on my plane”. It was a miracle to me.


    This guy… this great guy… who had always been my favorite actor and comedian… not only shared his flight… he made me feel like I was the only other person on that C-130. We shared stories… he told me jokes… I told him a joke… we laughed… he made me feel special and his wife demanded that she get our photo together. As I remember our very short time together… the tears are flowing from my eyes knowing that he is gone. I’ve never cried for a celebrity before… but, to me… he’s not a celebrity… he’s my life. This guy… this very awesome gift to our planet… was the reason that I’m complete… He is the reason that I was able to find my wife (Alla) of 12 years now, and absolutely the reason we have Sasha.


    I was able to thank Robin Williams a couple years later when he came to K-town to perform while we were stationed in Germany. We gave him a card with the photo from our flight together and a photo of our family… (Alla, Sasha and I)… along with a thank you letter. He wasn’t stopping for photos or autographs with the general public that evening, but he stopped when he saw us… it felt like he remembered me… even though it was more likely that my wife was yelling Russian at him and he was intrigued. He gave Alla an autograph and posed for a photo with her. This great GREAT man… was more than a man to us… He gave us both a new life.


    When we heard of his death… we pulled out pictures and we cried together… and we remembered how he changed us forever. May God rest your soul Robin, may you be the Patch Adams of Heaven.

     

    Love,

    Dan

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