Col. David B. Lobb defended his country for 37 years. Now, he is defending the men and women and their spouses who stood up in service to America.
On Nov. 9, Lobb, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2005, received the Leadership Award from the Military Officers Association of America, or MOAA.
Lobb recently stepped down as the president of the South Carolina Council of Chapters of MOAA. He also was the president of the Aiken County MOAA and was the vice president for legislative affairs for the South Carolina MOAA Council of Chapters for six years.
A veterans service organization, MOAA represents about 400,000 officers and spouses of officers who passed away. Its focus is military personnel issues on Capitol Hill, “especially proposed legislation affecting the career force, the retired community, and veterans of the uniformed services,” according to its website at www.moaa.org.
“It's given me a lot of entree into the federal delegation and people in Columbia to accomplish the mission for veterans,” Lobb said of his work with MOAA. “That's what I've been trying to do since I retired. I've stood up to defend veterans.”
For about 10 years, Lobb has worked with U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson from South Carolina on federal legislation known as the Widow's Tax Bill.
Currently, the surviving spouses of military members who died on active duty or of a service-connected illness or injury in retirement are entitled to survivor’s benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) fund, according to the website www.govtrack.us.
However, if they had also voluntarily paid into the Department of Defense’s Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP) in addition to the DIC, their survivors’ benefits can be subtracted by as much as $15,828 per year, according to the site.
That means more than 65,000 military surviving spouses receive less money than they’re supposed to – in some cases much less money – according to the website.
“It is the only organization in the federal government that does it,” Lobb said. “If you were a civil servant and you were injured and died for what you were doing for them, you would get both. Military people are the only ones who don't. It's an important issue for us.”
Wilson's proposed legislation in the U.S. House and Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones' legislation in the U.S. Senate would eliminate the Widow's Tax, giving military spouses their full money due.
The bill has attracted bipartisan support, Lobb said.
“The bill this year got 380-plus co-sponsors, the largest number of any bill in Congress,” Lobb said. “It has around 70 cosponsors for the companion bill in the Senate.”
The legislation was introduced in the last four sessions of Congress but did not receive a House vote.
“Joe Wilson had been fighting this battle initially as a solo warrior. MOAA came along, and we put our muscle behind it,” Lobb said. “Joe is really the guy who has pushed this a long way. I've worked with him a lot on this issue and with his staff. They're absolutely fantastic.”
Lobb said MOAA is known as “the fact organization.”
“We give you the facts," he said. “You go to Joe Wilson, and he'll say you saved my butt more times than I can remember by giving me the facts, not pulling somebody's heart strings. I'm not saying it's not important pulling somebody's heart strings every once in a while, but we're a fact organization.”
In the U.S. Army, Lobb served for 10 years as an enlisted man starting in 1968 and rose to the rank of sergeant first class before being commissioned as a first lieutenant.
Lobb worked as a chemical officer specializing in chemical and biological intelligence for weapons.
Lobb lived in Brussels, Belgium, for 20 years, and after 9/11, he took over as liaison between the European Command and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
“They said, 'You're there. Nobody can fly there. You've got to do the job.' So I filled in on that job for about six months,” he said. “I would interface with all the embassies and the foreign intelligence services.”
When Lobb retired, he was the senior officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency for Scientific, Technical Human Intelligence for Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Outside the military, Lobb worked for more than 50 years with the Boy Scouts of America in leadership positions, including district commissioner and chairman of the National Eagle Scout Association, European Chapter.
An Eagle Scout, Lobb followed the Scouting tradition of doing a good deed every day.
“My job was to go out and help troops work over problem areas they had and to try to point out problems that might be coming up that they didn't see,” he said. “You're always a Scout. It's like a Marine.”
When he worked for FMC Corporation in northern Virginia, Lobb was the campaign manager and president of the United Fund.
“We won the outstanding fund award for our category within the state of Virginia from the VA United Fund Association,” he said.
Lobb also was a member of the board of directors of Partners in Friendship, Aiken's sister city organization, for about nine years. Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon appointed Lobb to be the emissary to one of Aiken's sister cities, Shoalhaven, Australia, south of Sydney. Orvieto, Italy, is Aiken's other sister city.
Lobb has a close relationship with Australia.
“I've been there 35 or 40 times. I can drive around Sydney without a map,” he said.
He also speaks fluent Oz, or Aussie, switching to an Australian accent and rattling off Australian slang phrases such as “fair dinkum,” an expression of approval meaning good or genuine.
Lobb took a group from Aiken to Shoalhaven a few years ago.
“The city is not like our cities. It's more like a county. There are little towns within the city,” he said. “I describe it as Aiken with a beach.”
Counting Australia, Lobb has travelled to more than 100 countries.
"I'm in the century club and have been around the world quite a few times," he said.
Lobb said he tries to play golf, but he does not garden. His wife, Patricia, takes care of their home's lush garden.
He's also known as a good cook, specializing in Indian and Asian cuisine.
“I think it runs in the family. My cousin is a Cordon Bleu chef and did Donald Trump's wedding – the last one. I asked him if he got paid, though,” Lobb said and laughed. “By the way, I'm not politically correct. The one thing people say they like about me is that I'm very direct. I don't beat around the bush. I say what needs to be said.”
Although Lobb is officially retired from the Army, he is the president and CEO of DBL International Inc., which manufactures and supplies air testing equipment for modified atmosphere packaging.
“If you go to the store and buy cheese or beets covered and sealed in plastic wrap, when they package it, they put a mixture of gases in so they don't spoil,” Lobb said. “We have the most cost-effective piece of equipment for testing this to make sure how much of each gas is needed to keep the product from spoiling.”
DBL is an international company.
“We just got an order from Vietnam,” Lobb said. “They use it to test the national rice crop.”
Although Lobb's work with the military in Europe was serious, he had fun, too, appearing in a speaking role in a short film, “Dear Julia,” made by a Belgian film student in 2003. The film, by director Isaac E. Gozin, is on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-MBrpdCG-s.
For his work, Lobb received an acting credit on www.imdb.com.
In a bit of type casting for an intelligence officer, Lobb played a secret agent.
“My sergeant major made sure that it was watched by all of my officers before they came to see me,” Lobb said. “It was required viewing.”
Did they tease him?