My Father and the Story Behind a Family Name

February 20th, 2011
My Father, Michael Bobik, was a Marine who saw combat in World War II.  It was not just any combat.  He was a member of Rocky’s Raiders, a group of brave Marines who stormed the beaches of Guadalcanal in The Soloman Islands, north of Australia and south of Japan.  It was one of the first offensive moves of the United States against the Japanese.  It was important to secure the island for it’s airstrip so that we could be within striking distance of the Japanese nation.
My Father was 27 years old when he enlisted in the Marines.  He did not have to go to war because of his age, but he considered it his duty to serve his country.  On the Navy ship that took his battalion to Guadalcanal, he met a young 17 year old Marine private named William Cameron.  They became friends and Dad took him under his wing.  William was young and scared.  As the landing craft transported the Marines to shore they did not know what they would face.  My Dad winked at William and said “It will be all right kid.”  The landing was safe, but the jungles and mountains were formidable.  The heat and humidity were intense.  Shortly after they came ashore there were airstrikes on the American fleet by Japanese fighter pilots.  Several of our ships were sunk and the Navy pulled away from the area leaving our men on the island without rations and supplies.  For weeks and months they subsisted on rice and what rations they had.  Jungle combat with the Japanese was fierce and brutal.  In the end, they secured the airstrip and defeated the Japanese.  The movie, The Thin Red Line recounts the events that took place there.  I have seen it but do not want to see it again.  It is disturbing imagining what my Father went through.

William Cameron was killed in action on Guadalcanal.  The picture of my Father kneeling at his grave in Guadalcanal has been in our family album for years.  I remember looking at it as a young child.  After William’s death my Dad vowed that if he ever had a son, he would name him William Cameron Bobik to honor the memory of this young man who gave his life for his country.

This is my brother, William Cameron Bobik.  He served two tours of duty during the Viet Nam War.  Bill has much better hair than I do even though it is short in this picture taken during his time in Viet Nam.  Sorry, I just had to inject a little humor into this family saga.  I have always envied his full head of thick hair.  He is two years younger than me and I admire him very much.  Family is everything to him.

Bill’s son is named Paul Cameron Bobik.  I love his hair too.

Paul has three lovely children.  His son’s name is Seth William Bobik and one of his daughter’s name is Chloe Cameron Bobik.  Paul and all of the other grandchildren loved my Mom and Dad.  They were grandparents of extraordinary warmth.   It has become important to honor their memories.

Jennifer, Bill’s oldest daughter named her first born son Clay William.  Jennie lived across the street from her Grandparents and was a great help to them in their later years.  She also has great hair.  Damn!  Am I the only one with bad hair?

Morgan is Bill’s youngest daughter and the one responsible for posting all of the pictures of  my Dad and her Dad on Facebook;  again great hair.  She also lived close to my parents and loved them dearly.  When my son Michael was considering the name Cameron for his new son he contacted Morgan to ask her if she wanted to use it for any of her future children.  She graciously gave Michael her blessings.

So we have come almost full circle with the name.  It is a bittersweet story but I kind of like that we have linked my Dad’s name (which is also my son’s name) with William Cameron’s name.  Cameron Michael is the name of my new Grandson and a name that I am sure would please my father.  As my brother said,  “He is smiling at all of us from above.”  His legacy will be with us always.  Thank you Michael and Kristen for honoring him in this way.

26 responses to “My Father and the Story Behind a Family Name”

  1. Penny I think you have great hair! Funny that you believe otherwise. lol! Congratulations on your new grandson. The name is perfect and a great way to honor your family.

  2. Karen says:

    This is absolutey beautiful! As the daughter of a WW II Veteran and a military historian, I appreciate the value you put on your father’s service. The story about William Cameron is very moving. I love the way your family has honored the young soldier by keeping his name alive. Does his family know?
    I too admire people with good hair!! You have a very attractive family.
    Thank you for sharing this story. I wish my father was alive. I would have sent it to him to read.
    Ladybug Creek

  3. Pondside says:

    This is a lovely story for wee Cameron to carry with him through life – a legacy of loyalty and remembering.
    ….and I think you have great hair!

  4. A very poignant and memorable story Penny. Thank you so much for sharing your story which has been a grest way to start my day.

  5. Susan says:

    Penny, a beautifully told story. But having the genealogy bug, I have to ask….has any attempt been made to ever contact William Cameron’s family? They would be so proud to know their family name has been carried on so beautifully. Susan

  6. Penny says:

    Karen and Susan, William Cameron’s family were aware that my Father named his son William Cameron, but I don’t think they know the whole story. I need to get with my brother and see if we can find them again.

  7. Donnie says:

    That was such a lovely post and a wonderful tribute to your father and all involved. So sweet.

  8. Big Dude says:

    What a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Kat says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your family history with us. I really enjoyed it.

  10. Haden News says:

    What a beautiful story Penny! My father passed last month, he too was a World War 11 Vet. and we were very proud of him. Those guys were a special bunch!!

  11. Rita says:

    What a lovly tribute to your family.# of my brothers were in the 2nd WW; they did come back, but what they have to see and go through changes a person forever.

  12. racheld says:

    I can scarcely think of any War without getting emotional, and your sweet tribute eased the pangs of thinking of such hardship, but the heroism came through, loud and clear.

    Thank you for sharing such a heart-lifting, brave story. It should be told and re-told in your family’s history forever, and now you’ve shared it with countless people.

  13. racheld says:


    Is this anyone you know? I SO apologize if the diary causes you any dismay.


  14. Karen says:

    What a wonderful tribute and an awesome story.

  15. Kate says:

    What a wonderful story and tribute to a young WWII soldier. It is amazing that each generation of your family has continued the legacy.

  16. Rosabela says:

    Oh wow, Penny! I truly enjoyed reading this post. What a wonderful story. 🙂

  17. Lyla says:

    Penny, I love that you shared this with your blog family. It shows how your wonderful blog has evolved. The recipes are still great, but the trust is greater. As I’ve told you several times, I feel so fortunate to have known your fabulous parents. Though I was young, I could tell they were devoted to each other and totally and romantically in love. No wonder they had two such special children in you and your brother. In a day when fathers were many times emotionally distant, your father was the dad we all wanted. When you had “overnights”, he chased us up the stairs and made monster sounds that delighted us. It was only after we reconnected a few years ago, you shared with me that he had been a Marine at Guadalcanal. It’s hard to reconcile your good-looking, fun-loving father with someone who literally went through hell. My husband and I just finished watching HBOs fabulous series The Pacific about the Marines in WWII. As the proud sister of a former Marine, I know they are a special breed (I’m not saying that too loudly because my husband and other brothers were Army in Viet Nam). Thanks for sharing this beautifully written piece. Your hair is lovely and your spirit is even more beautiful. All your life, everyone has always adored Penny.

  18. Penny says:

    Thank you Lyla. You are a special friend and through your remembrances you have made me remember too. Too bad you made me remember that I abandoned you to the town bully by running away. Next time I’ll have your back.

  19. What a beautiful post! I love it when people use family names for their children.

    Just about all 7 of us were named in part for someone else. Me after my mom. My favorites are my twin brothers whose middle names are after their God fathers and uncles, Patrick George & Michael Peter, and my sister who was named after two family members, my dad’s cousin who passed away very young and his mother who died the month she was born, her name is Marilyn Ernestine and she loves it!

    I’m sure your dad is smiling on his great grandson!

    I enjoyed my visit today!

  20. What a sweet sweet story…loved it!

  21. What a lovely post. Stories about families warm my heart. Preserving the name is a great legacy.. I’m pretty sure your father up there is so happy.

  22. Barbara says:

    What a wonderful, moving post, Penny! And the family resemblance down the line is amazing, is it not?
    Thanks for sharing your family history and memories. I know how proud you must be of them all.

  23. Lisa says:

    That is an amazing story. I really enjoyed reading it.

  24. Robin Sue says:

    I have tears in my eyes as I read this. What a beautiful tribute to those who gave and lost so much for our country. The family name has so much meaning now, thanks for explaining your story.

  25. Charlotte says:

    Do you know anything about William Cameron’s family? I wonder if they know how you have honored his name in your own family. Thanks for sharing this story.

  26. sharon says:

    Wonderful story, Penny.

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