1980: Captured by Vietnamese and released

In 1979, Robert was seconded from the NGO, Christian Outreach, to work with the International Committee of the Red Cross on the Thai-Cambodian border, as hundreds of thousands of people came there looking for food and safety. Robert established a food distribution system that came to be known as the Landbridge, which funneled thousands of tons of rice, rice seed and agricultural tools back into western Cambodia. This not only reduced the numbers of those seeking to become refugees in Thailand, but also enabled large numbers of people to survive until the next harvest.

In June 1980, the Vietnamese army, who were upset with the repatriation of Khmer Rouge cadres from Thailand to Cambodia, launched an attack on the Thai border camps. While searching for wounded in the Nong Chan camp, Robert was captured and held for three days before being released back into Thailand.