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Open Letter to Bob Rodgers - New Mexico Search and Rescue

A Wise Man

Bob Rodgers

Bob Rodgers

Search for Randy Bilyeu

On the evening of January 13th I received a Facebook message that Randy Bilyeu was missing. I was told he had taken a raft down the Rio Grande in search of a hidden treasure on January 5th.

On the morning of January 14th I filed a missing person report. The mission had abruptly begun to find Randy, we all had hope for a possible search and rescue, his dog was found alive on January 15th, possibly Randy was still alive too.

Never give up hope!

During the search I was amazed at how many people I heard from who didn't know that New Mexico had a search and rescue organization. I reckon if you don't ever need SAR, one wouldn't know that an amazing organization of volunteers who give so selflessly of their time exists. Well, these people know now. Hopefully they won't ever require the services of SAR.

On July 13th, six months to the date I received the Facebook message that Randy was missing, I received another late night Facebook message that a body was found. Clues had pointed to that the body was most likely Randy's. Yet, we had to wait 12 days for official confirmation.

Two Facebook messages, exactly six months apart and what ensued during the search was a story no one could possibly make up. The search for Randy Bilyeu was an experience that I never imagined I would experience.

Yet, with the assistance of many caring hearts, we met our goal. It was officially announced on July 26th, 12 days after the body was found, that Randy had indeed been found. Yet, we will not have closure for another 1-4 months when the case is officially closed.

The letter below expresses my gratitude to Bob Rodgers, SAR Resource Officer ...

To Bob Rodgers,

You have gone above and beyond your duties of Resource Manager for NMSP during the search for Randy Bilyeu.

For starters, you tolerated the erratic, at times, behavior of the former wife of the missing person. I commend you for that.

You had absolutely no obligation to do so, but you did. I salute you. By doing so, you personally created a machine or as you so dubbed her, the Search Manager.

Six months prior I was a widow who was grieving the loss of her second husband, only to have her first husband go missing. I was abruptly tossed into a situation that I knew nothing about. The world of Search and Rescue - Search and Recovery - Missing People. Though we did disagree at times and encountered emotional outbursts, you never gave up. I never gave up. Our dedication to finding Randy remained steadfast and strong. We continued on with our mission to achieve our goal.

I first spoke with you on January 17th, 2016 regarding the search for Randy. You thoroughly explained what SAR had done so far in hopes of finding him. A man that had already been missing for 12 days and chances are he wouldn't be found alive, which would mean Search and Recovery. I was in awe of the dedication of your volunteers. For two and half days they left no log unturned in the rugged terrain along the Rio Grande. Whether by air, ground or water your volunteers continued to scour their designated search area. To no avail. Randy was not found.

The search was suspended on the morning of the 18th. The family was devastated. While other non-SAR volunteer searchers were still looking for Randy, the family was left confused and baffled. Yet, you never gave up. Each time I requested your assistance you were there for me. With the exception of weekends, evenings and vacations. Hey, even you needed your time off from this persistent woman, but you directed me to an amazing assistant who became quite an asset to me. Peter Dickson, the Incident Commander during the search for Randy. Peter never gave up. He also went above and beyond to help guide me along the way as Search Manager.

Bob Rodgers and Peter Dickson

Bob Rodgers and Peter Dickson

By February 1st, I had become the official machine you created. Yet, still a bit clueless. OK, a lot clueless, but I was a work in progress. While I never gave up hope in finding Randy for my daughters, you never gave up on me. Nor did Peter. Then along came the team of searchers I formed. Together we became a powerhouse. Each and every member of the team brought their specific talent to the group. Along the way we all learned lessons from each other. Well, the majority of us learned lessons.

As you are well aware, I am persistent. At times, a bit excessive. You would often tell me to be relax and be patient which irritated me. Since I am not a patient person, but eventually you taught me that I had no other choice than to be patient! My searchers will tire and need to return to their lives. Also, the search area will become too treacherous. You were correct on both counts. Yet, my searchers never gave up. If there was something they could do to assist, they were there for the team. I mean, they are the Best of the Best, they lived up to their title.

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Well, it seems like the team has achieved their goal. How? By someone being at the right place at the right time. A phrase that you trained me would most likely be the way Randy will be found. Once again, you were correct.

Then we received notification that the body that was found on July 13th belongs to Randy. Our goal has been met. The family will have closure. Randy could rest in peace. Others could learn from his experience. Sadly, the family needs to accept that Randy made a choice that cost him his life.

As my boss, you challenged me beyond my capacity. Yet, my capacity learned to adjust to the abundance of knowledge I was acquiring on a daily basis. I learned how to present an argument even though I would not win, but I sure get credit for trying! I also learned that even though one might often hear, "it doesn't matter," it really does matter, for one reason or another.

The state of New Mexico made the best choice when they elected you to run their Search and Rescue program. You are a stellar example of it takes a village. Not only do you encourage others to think for themselves and encourage their choices, you care. Caring about others is a crucial part of being a exemplary leader.

Thank you for my lessons learned, for never giving up on finding Randy, and most importantly for caring.

Another thank you letter...

Hi Bob,

This is Michelle, Randy Bilyeu's daughter. I wanted to send a quick email to say thank you for your dedication and consistency in the search for my Dad.

I knew once I met you that you take your job very seriously and that you have a kind heart.

Thank you for putting up with my crazy mom, too!

Bob and Michelle

Bob and Michelle

And yet another...

To Bob,

I am sending you this note to personally thank you for all of your efforts and hard work since January 15 in helping with the search for Randy.

Words can’t truly express my gratitude to you and your wonderful team. When we first met you in Santa Fe in January, you told us you hate to leave any man behind.

I knew from your demeanor that you really meant those words, and it was very encouraging to me and to my family to know you would never give up.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Best regards,


Bob Rodgers and SAR help to rescue a family of 6

The Search for Randy Bilyeu

  • Rescue Me
    Wispy, cotton-candy clouds move briskly across the mid-February sky. My girlfriend, Thea Hutchinson, and I take turns climbing the mottled brown basaltic rocks of the cliff band just outside of,Features


Lyle on June 13, 2020:

In March 2016 we were requested to support a “search” for Randy. we were flying drones to photograph more difficult terrain. Later in the day I fell and was dehydrated I had to be evacuated by medevac helicopter. The helicopter crew had difficulty locating a clear landing zone, loading. Launching out of the canyon. The drone pilot, guide, and 3 persons of the MedVac crew risked their safety to rescue me.

For their heroic actions I thank you.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on June 28, 2017:

Thank you!

moonlake from America on June 22, 2017:

Linda just saw you on Inside Edition. I knew it was you right away. I haven't been on here much in the last year so did not see this hub. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on December 04, 2016:

Thank you Peggy.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 03, 2016:

So sorry that it was not the ending you would have desired but at least the family can now have some closure. All people who do the dedicated work of search and rescue are to be applauded for their tireless efforts. Thanks for highlighting the work that they do. Condolences to you and your family.

Linda Bilyeu (author) from Orlando, FL on August 17, 2016:

Hey Y'all! Bob is one heck of a guy. He truly goes above and beyond to assist family members bring home their family members. I salute him along with Peter. I could not have done all I did without either of them.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on August 16, 2016:

Linda, you've had a helluva couple of years. I certainly hope life can go back to normal for you. You've passed every test God may have thrown at you with flying colors! Time to breathe....

Nell Rose from England on August 11, 2016:

What a great tribute to this kind and dedicated man, Linda. being over here in England and not being able to help in the search I constantly followed each and every step, knowing these guys would not give up on you, what an amazing man, and wonderful crew who also searched, whether they belonged to an official work crew or just individuals, they were all amazing. x

Suzettenaples on August 09, 2016:

Wonderful tribute to this man and his searchers. It is hard to remain patient when the father of your children is missing. But your persistence found him and you should be proud.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 04, 2016:

I'm glad you were able to reach the closure you needed, although it's not the ending you prayed for. Peace and healing to you and your family during this time of grief. I'm glad you are taking the time to recognize your helpers.

Suzie from Carson City on August 02, 2016:

SFAM.....I can fully appreciate how important this letter was for you to write. I can understand your enormous gratitude for these wonderful human beings who respond to crisis like Super Heros. These are the individuals in this world who are made of all the right stuff and are always ready to do what is necessary to right a wrong, solve a problem, help their fellow-man.

You and your girls will never ever forget these special people.

You and Bob made a dynamic duo! Hey girlfriend....maybe he could use an energetic side kick?! Feel like moving to New Mexico? You're perfect for the job.

Time to relax girl....a few deep breaths and a little solitude is in order. I'm hugging you and the girls and wishing you peace & healing.. Love, Paula/Effer

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on August 02, 2016:

Dear Linda,

You have a way of instilling energy, purpose and hope in all you do.

This is a beautiful tribute to Bob, Peter and all the selfless searchers.

Hope you are getting 'a little' rest... Love, MM

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on August 02, 2016:

I hope you soon regain the balance that is needed to survive in this insane world. It is remarkable that all the right people found their way to you, or you to them, when you needed them. I hope it is a good long while before your tenacious abundance is needed again.

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