Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The World Just Lost Another Hero And Triathlete - And I Lost a Good Friend, Captain Robert Lindenau

One of my good friends Robert Lindenau, lost his life the day before yesterday from a rocket propelled grenade. Robert was 39, His wife Tonya is 37, Kids Rachael 12, Gabriel 10, Sarah 8, Hannah 6. Robert contacted me years ago, after reading my editorial in Triathlete about my non-profit effort, Project Active, and said he wanted to help. Over the last few years, we have worked together with Robert to bring athletic equipment to several places that have seen war – bringing the children who have lost so much, the hope and joy that comes from sports.

We honored Robert a few years ago at the Competitor Endurance Sports Awards for his work helping distribute Soccer Balls and athletic shoes to children in areas of war. On several of Robert’s missions, he helped Project Active distribute sports equipment. He loved life, and was always looking for a way to bring peace and kindness to the children on every mission he was on. He loved the children, and they loved him.

Robert you were and always will be a true Hero to us. We will all miss you my friend.

Here is a quote from Robert following one of our distributions a few years ago. (please note it is from an unedited e-mail)

there are thousands of us risking our lives over here every day. it seems to me that creative minds ought to be able to find solutions to getting the mission accomplished, and mitch has done that. look up operation give online. look up spirit of America online in conjunction with the marines. and then look up project active. these are the people that are going to help us ensure Iraq doesn't tumble like a house of cards. these are the people who will keep American service members alive, simply by helping us provide for Iraq what the world humanitarian community can't or won't provide yeah, it's always fun when you drive through a village and the kids chase after you, screaming, laughing and clapping. oh, and there's this: the universal symbol for "give me a soccer ball!" is arms extended, palms facing in, as if holding an imaginary ball. kids do it, grown ups do it. when the boxes of equipment arrived, my co-workers made fun of me. jeez! what the heck is all that!? you need your own warehouse? it was hard to contain my excitement while waiting for the right opportunity to go out and hand this stuff out. the tactical mission comes first in priority, so i had to wait a little while until the right security force was available. the guys really enjoyed being able to do this. it's one of the friendlier things we've been able to do, and it's really gratifying to share smiles, handshakes, waves, and to a lesser degree, the cheek kissing. (laughs) i mean kissing the cheeks of adults! i don't mind smooching the cute little kids...just not that wild about beards on the adults! (laughs) well, what i'd say to folks back home is this: we have to get this right-Iraq needs our help, and whatever your feelings about what brought us here in the first place, we are here now. the news back home is not balanced at all, and doesn't show the number of good, hard-working people here that deserve a shot at something better. my own children asked me why i had to come to Iraq, and that's what i told them: to give the Iraqis a chance at something better. also to get rid of the bad guys, but in my heart, i feel it's really about providing people what they need. mitch and project active have given me the opportunity to do that in a very positive way. i'm very grateful, as are the soldiers i work with. obviously, the children are grateful as well, and we now have some wonderful new friends the kids are awesome. they went absolutely wild when they saw the soccer balls! for a long time afterward, they came up to get their picture taken, to hold our hands, to tell us jokes in broken english. some just wanted to stand close. there's a hand gesture for friend, which is holding out the index and middle finger together. showing a kid that he or she is your friend produces a really cool result. they just beam. they giggle. they lean in for a hug. then they make the sign back as if to say "yeah, that's right! we're friends!" it means the world to them. i'm really proud of all that is represented by this-all the effort that's gone into getting sports equipment to the kids. thanks to all the people who've pitched in! i've discussed the sport of triathlon with some of the Iraqis i've spoken with. they are remarkably open to seeing sports from around the world, and showed an interest in triathlon. it would definitely be seasonally driven, though! my gosh it's hot in the summer! i've tried to get out and run, and if i don't get it knocked out before the sun crests the horizon, it's going to suck. bad. I'm from the northwest, so this heat is not my preferred environment at all” -Captain Robert Lindenau

We have set up a donation link for his family at www.projectactive.org (on the top right on the page click "Help Robert Lindenau's family" - then select the amount that you would like to contribute).

Or, Flowers, financial support contributions, and cards can be sent to:

Lindenau Family Support
106 Daniels Court
Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28307


  1. Mitch,

    Thanks for the tribute to Bob...he was, and still is, to those of us who had the honor of knowing him, a great man, husband, father and American.

    MAJ Andrew Duprey

  2. Mitch,

    I'm trying to figure out if this is the same Bob Lindenau that went to school in Goldendale, Washington, for a short time in high school. Do you happen to know where I could get that info?

    Thanks, Toni Preston

  3. It is so comforting to read these comments about Bob. We grew up together from childhood to high school. He was a grest frind and a great man. Yes toni I believe he did go to Goldendale HS for a short while. contact me if you would like more info. Its so nice to 'meet' other old friends of his. Vicki