The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2022

82 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL IN MEMORY n Robert “Bob” C. Bergin, 83, a retired Foreign Service officer, died on June 9, 2021, in Alexandria, Va. While studying English literature at Villanova University, Mr. Bergin enlisted in the U.S. Army and was the sole G.I. on his troop carrier to Japan not to be seasick in a typhoon. He rode his beloved Yamaha motorcycle all over Japan, taught English to high school students and, on return to the U.S., rode cross country on the Yamaha. Mr. Bergin then joined the Foreign Service, interrupting his master’s degree studies in English literature at Georgetown University and his sky-diving hobby to begin Vietnamese language studies. He volunteered for a posting in Saigon and witnessed firsthand the Viet Cong attack on the U.S. embassy in January 1968 and the broader Tet Offensive. Tours inThai- land (twice), Indonesia, South Africa and Kenya followed. In 1986, he and his wife, Monique, began their Asian antique business, Banana Tree, opening a shop on King Street in Alexandria in 1988. When not hunting for art treasures for Banana Tree, Mr. Bergin pursued other interests in Asia. He worked closely with the Foundation for the Preservation and Development of Thai Aircraft and with groups involved with the recovery of WorldWar II aircraft in Asia. He also maintained a special interest in the First American Volunteer Group, nicknamed the “Flying Tigers” and one of the most effective and colorful combat units in the history of aerial warfare. His many articles on aviation history have appeared in numerous publications in the U.S. and Asia. In recent years, the scope of his writing grew to include the U.S. Office of Strate- gic Services and FreeThai underground resistance operations. On visits to China, he further explored WWII aviation and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. He is the first American writer to have been granted interviews with senior PLAAF combat pilots, including a lead- ing MIG-15 ace and PLAAF attack pilot involved with China’s nuclear program who also dropped China’s first H-Bomb. The resulting article, published by the Smithsonian Air & Space magazine in 2009, was selected by The New York Times for its weekly “Must Read” section. Mr. Bergin was a prolific writer, publishing as many as 30 works—novels, history and historical fiction—as well as numerous articles and short stories, two of which appeared in the literary magazine, The Evergreen Review . He is survived by his wife, Monique. n Paul A. Bialecki, 71, a retired Foreign Service officer, passed away at his home in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 19, 2021. Mr. Bialecki was born on Sept. 10, 1950, to Stanley and Charlotte (Czuper) Bialecki in Racine, Wis., where he grew up and graduated from St. Bonaventure Prep. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving from 1971 to 1975. During his service he was stationed in Amberg, Germany, and received the National Defense Service and the Good Conduct medals. He went on to receive a B.S. in labor and industrial relations and a B.A. in history from the University of Wiscon- sin–Parkside. Mr. Bialecki married his beloved wife, Sally Majewski, in 1985 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Racine. In March 1978, he joined the Foreign Service. During a distinguished career, he served in Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Mauritius, the United Kingdom and South Korea, and had two tours of duty in Washington, D.C. After retiring in April 2002, he worked as a state information technology manager at the Wisconsin chapter of the Nature Conservancy for 10 years and remained a member of the American Foreign Service Association. Mr. Bialecki enjoyed traveling to exotic locations, was an avid reader and loved to journal. He also enjoyed spending time with his family, cooking, gardening, hiking in nature and taking long walks with his Welsh Terriers, Toby and Finley. He is survived by his wife, Sally; sister, Kathleen Bialecki of Racine; sister-in-law, Susan Arvai (and her husband, David) of Racine; and brother-in-law, Gene Majew- ski (and his wife, Linda) of Pineville, N.C.; as well as nieces and nephews. n Christopher M. Gilbertson, 62, a Foreign Service specialist, passed away unexpectedly from complications of B-cell lymphoma in Fairfax, Va., on Oct. 21, 2021, after being medevaced from Rome, Italy. Mr. Gilbertson was born on Feb. 2, 1959, to Ardyce DeBurle and Donald Gilbertson in San Bernardino, Calif., and raised in Porterville, Calif. It was there that he met and married his high school sweetheart, Beth Wolfram. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1978 and served for five years as a submariner aboard the USS Henry Clay (SSBN 625), with the distinction of being a member of the “Order of the Blue Nose.” He remained in the Naval Reserve for another 20 years. His transition into the world of infor- mation technology began in Charlotte, N.C. During this period, he also began his favorite role in life as father to his two daughters, Caitlin and Rachel. In 1995, Mr. Gilbertson’s employer transferred him and his young family to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, inspiring a new- found passion for travel and adventure. In 2003, Mr. Gilbertson joined the Department of State as a Foreign Service specialist. He spent his entire career over- seas, often in demanding circumstances, at posts including Vilnius, Abu Dhabi,