FARMINGTON -- "Uncle Bob" finally retired from the Davis County Sheriff's Office.
Detective Bob Hunt, 73, hung up his holster and swapped it for golf clubs after 56 years of public service, with the last 24 years dedicated to making Davis County streets safer as a bomb technician and crime lab detective.
"We didn't think he'd ever retire," said his daughter, Chelsea Van Vliet. "We just said, 'We'll believe it when it happens.'"
Hunt, referred to as "Uncle Bob" by many of the deputies, came to the sheriff's office and ended up on the SWAT team after serving 32 years with the Air Force as a bomb technician.
Born in Boston, he joined the Air Force 18 days after he turned 17 despite having only a ninth-grade education. He promised his mother he would get his GED, which he did.
"I had an abusive father, so I figured if I'm going to get the heck beat out of me, I might as well get paid," Hunt said about why he joined the military.
He ended up serving four tours in Vietnam and taught about explosives at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.
Hunt spent Friday reminiscing about his career and greeting family, friends and co-workers.
He talked about a time when he had to crawl into a culvert in Centerville to retrieve numerous pipe bombs that a city worker found while checking the sewer system.
"That was a tight fit," Hunt said. "You couldn't get a robot in. You couldn't wear a bomb suit. You just had to man up and go down."
The bomb builders had tried to detonate the pipe bombs earlier, but they failed. They left to get more parts, but returned to find law enforcement, including Hunt, waiting for them.
Hunt said he was nervous when he had to detonate explosives, but "you can't let nerves get in the way. When you do, you do something stupid. That's how you get hurt."
Hunt almost had to quit law enforcement six years ago because of a physical fitness policy that required all officers to run 1.5 miles in less than 16 minutes. Hunt had the top third of his right lung removed in 2002 after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He honestly thought his career would end in 2006 because he struggled to run.
Co-workers trained with him because they didn't want to see him leave. He ended up running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes and 40 seconds.
On Friday, family, friends and co-workers attended a celebration honoring the man who knows more about bombs and other explosives than most. His wife, Terry, had retired from the sheriff's office Dec. 1, 2010.
The two first met shortly after Hunt was hired. Terry Hunt was working in the jail and he was serving warrants.
"I arrested 300 people that year, just so I could see her," Hunt said.
Now he plans to spend time "with my beautiful wife and lovely grandchildren," he said.
Hunt is going to be missed, not just for his work ethic, but for his sense of humor, said Davis County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Jensen.
"Uncle Bob knows how to screw around and have a good time, but when it's time to go to work, he's serious," Jensen said.
"My motto is 'Don't mess with my crime scene,'" Hunt said.
Hunt said one of the hardest cases he had to investigate was the murder of Jill Allen in 1996.
"We didn't have anything," Hunt said.
They had a bat and gun parts, he said, but Allen had been strangled. It was obvious the crime scene had been staged. Officers got a tip that led them, with a search warrant, to a home in West Valley. There, Hunt found a car key inside a plastic container. The key started Allen's car, he said.
Advances in technology have made solving crimes easier, Hunt said. When he first started, fingerprints were matched by going through cards in a file.
A murder case on Christmas 2003, when Luis Martinez's body was found in South Weber, was solved from just one fingerprint, Hunt said. All officers had was a witness who saw a white van leaving the area, he said.
A fingerprint from the victim was sent to the Automated Fingerprint Information System, which identified the victim. Then detectives tracked the victim's movements to find Jose Juan Rodriguez Valle, 32, who confessed to stabbing and beating Martinez to death.
Bob Hunt said he's going to miss the adrenaline rush he gets when a call comes to investigate a crime scene or to diffuse an explosive. But he's mostly going to miss the people he's worked with for the past two decades.
"They're family. I mean, next to military, cops are the second-largest gang in this country," Hunt said. "They care for each other."