Seventy-three-year-old Silas Merritt Robertson is the favorite uncle of millions of people across America. Better known as “Uncle Si,” he brought plenty of laughter to those of us who watched A&E’s hugely popular Duck Dynasty reality TV show for the 11 seasons it was on the air. Thousands of fans watch reruns on Netflix and still laugh at his antics.
Uncle Si and friends Justin Martin, John-David Owen, John Godwin, Jay Stone, and Phillip McMillan, who still make duck calls at Duck Commander, will keep you laughing with a podcast called the Duck Call Room at 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays on YouTube and other media sites. They sit around a table and answer letters from viewers, sharing tall tales and hunting stories, many of them about Uncle Si. Sometimes Phil, Willie, Jase, or other members of the Robertson family stop by for a visit adding to the fun and laughter of the podcast.
Uncle Si has a heart as big as the outdoors he loves so much. It is a side of him that a lot of people don’t know. As he says, “Hey Jack, it’s what God put me here for, okay.” And while we have all laughed at Si’s jokes, stories, antics, and quintessential “Hey Jacks and okays,” there are a few things in Si’s life that he is very serious about.
Our Q&A with Silas “Uncle Si” Robertson
Larry Whiteley (LW): Si, a lot of our H&B readers may not know it, but you are a retired Army veteran who served in the Vietnam war. Tell us about that.
Si Robertson: Well, when I got out of high school, I wasn’t real sure what I wanted to do, okay. I had two brothers going to college at Louisiana Tech, so I thought I would too. I lasted one semester and decided college wasn’t for me and dropped out. Well, three weeks later I get this letter from Uncle Sam telling me I was now a part of the United States Army, okay! They put me through a battery of tests to see what I qualified for, and I ended up working in supply.
They sent me to Vietnam. Hey Jack, we were all kids going to war, okay. I ran a direct support supply making sure those boys had what they needed to fight the enemy. People who weren’t there can’t imagine the horror that was going on over there, okay. That gets working on your mind, and I got into drinking heavily. There were things I saw and heard that are still hard to forget.
LW: So, how long did you serve in the Army?
Si Robertson: The Army took care of me for three years, and then I got out and married the love of my life. I had been out about 16 months and was kind of moping around, okay. My sweet wife told me I was way happier when I was in the Army. So hey, I joined up again and went back to working in supply. I made it to Sergeant First Class and would have stayed in for 30 years and then retired but after over 24 years of service I was forced into retirement. I came back home and went to work for my brother Phil at Duck Commander making reeds for the duck calls he was selling.
LW: Have other members of the Robertson family served in the military?
Si Robertson: My father was a World War II Navy veteran, and I had two older brothers that served in the Army. My son Scott did three tours in Iraq.
LW: I heard you love being around fellow veterans. What would you like to say to veterans and to your fellow Americans about veterans?
Si Robertson: Hey Jack, anyone who has served in the military is my hero, okay. Everybody who ever served should be honored and not only them but their family too. They served for all of us, and sometimes we just take it for granted. We need to do everything we can to thank them.
These men and women have come home with a lot of mental baggage from their service, okay. Eight out of every 100 veterans have PTSD. My own son is fighting the battle with PTSD from all he went through in Iraq. I have talked with fellow veterans who fought in Vietnam who are still fighting the mental war. The same thing with Gulf War veterans and those that have been fighting in Afghanistan all these years and now seeing everything that’s happening over there now, okay. People know how I feel about that.
A lot of veterans are hurting themselves in some way or committing suicide. The war is not over for some of them, Jack. I tell them to have hope, get help, and make plans for their future, okay. I don’t think our government is doing enough to help our veterans. I would like to see them do a lot more for these men and women, okay. That is the least our country could do for them considering what they have done for us.
LW: You and the entire Robinson family are not bashful about sharing your faith with others. What is your favorite bible verse?
Si Robertson: John 3:16 and 17. Most people know 16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But 17 is more important. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Look Jack, Jesus Christ didn’t come to condemn us, so like I tell people all the time do not get in the condemning business. You’re not qualified. Jesus was qualified. He had the right to condemn us. But he didn’t do it!
LW: One last question Uncle Si. Tell us the story on the blue plastic tea cup that you are always carrying around.
Si Robertson: My mamma sent that to me in a care package while I was over in Vietnam. Hey Jack, it stayed with me all the way through the napalm, mustard gas, and rice wine of Vietnam, and I’ll probably take it to my grave, okay!