Fallon man honored for supporting active-duty wife

He cooks. He cleans. He does the laundry.

He'll even show you how to shoot an assault rifle or a pistol when he's not busy being stay-at-home dad.

Robert Duncan has a title no Marine, sailor, soldier or airman can claim: the first and only man to earn the distinction of Navy Spouse of the Year as selected by Military Spouse magazine.

"It was kind of cool being the first guy," he said Thursday in a telephone interview from Fallon. That's where he lives with his Donna, a legalman first class in the Judge Advocate General's office at Naval Air Station Fallon.

Their 19-year-old son, Cody, training to be an Air Force gunner, depended on his dad "for everything" when Donna was deployed to Indonesia in 2005.

"I do all the cooking at the house," Robert boasts without objection from Donna. "A lot of people stress out about it, but it was actually a good time. It gave me time to bond with my son more," Robert recalled.

"The thing about it is you're one person, judge, jury and executioner. You've got to do everything. You're not just dad, you're mom. You're mom and dad," the 42-year-old Persian Gulf War lance corporal said.

In fact, their family is all military. Robert served in the Marine Corps from 1988 to 1992. Donna was a soldier from 1990 until 1993.

She joined the Navy in 2000 and is a qualified surface warfare sailor. Cody joined the Air Force this year.

"He left for boot camp on July Fourth. You can't get more patriotic than that," Robert said.

On the homefront, Robert volunteers his weapons expertise to help sailors qualify for overseas deployment.

"He shows up at physical readiness tests to cheer sailors on," Donna said. "He helped get people mission-ready. He taught them how to shoot."

Donna nominated him for Navy Spouse of the Year without his knowledge.

"I'm the active-duty, and he's the stay-at-home spouse," Donna said.

"He didn't have that 'man attitude,' and he took care of the family, and he was there to take care of things at the house."

After holding the title for a year, he will relinquish it when the nationwide magazine makes its selections for the 2012 contest.

Now in the fifth year, nominations for 2012 can be submitted at www.milspouse.com/msoy through Dec. 14. A winner from each of the five military branches will be chosen through an online vote in January.

"I didn't even know anything about it until I was in the top five," he said. "I come home one day, and she says, 'Honey, I put you in for the military spouse award.' That was an honor right there."

Robert admits that when people hear the words "military spouse, you normally think about a woman."

The toughest part about Donna's overseas deployments is that "I didn't have anybody else to bounce ideas off of. Really there wasn't a difficult part. I just did more. I did the laundry, and Cody got to become very helpful."

His advice to the next man vying for Military Spouse of the Year: "Don't be Mr. Fix It. When Donna comes home and has had one of those days, she just needs me to listen. Communication with your spouse is everything, the biggest thing in any marriage."

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.


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