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Fort hosts retirement ceremony for general

Special Photo
Sgt. Frankie Williams (left), of the U.S. Army, presents Maj. Gen. Thomas Robinson, deputy commanding general of the First Army, with a U.S. flag, during a retirement ceremony held at Fort Gillem.

Special Photo Sgt. Frankie Williams (left), of the U.S. Army, presents Maj. Gen. Thomas Robinson, deputy commanding general of the First Army, with a U.S. flag, during a retirement ceremony held at Fort Gillem.

By Maria-Jose Subiria

msubiria@news-daily.com

After 37 years of service in the U.S. Army, Maj. Gen. Thomas Robinson has decided it's time to retire.

Fort Gillem conducted a retirement ceremony for Robinson, on Friday, at its First Army Headquarters, according to Robert Saxon, a spokesperson for Fort Gillem. Robinson's retirement will be effective today, he said.

Robinson received a Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony, said Saxon. The medal was awarded to Robinson, because he distinguished himself by providing exceptionally meritorious service to the U.S. government, in a duty of great responsibility, Saxon added.

"It's a good feeling," said Robinson, about his retirement. "I got a lot more out of the Army, than the Army ever got out of me. It has been really rewarding."

While serving his country for almost four decades, Robinson said he has gained good friends that will last him a lifetime. Saxon said Robinson has been a deputy commanding general for the United States Army Reserve, First Army, at Fort Gillem, since July 2007.

He was responsible for training the Army National Guard and Reserve Units that were deploying to Afghanistan, and Iraq. Robinson said he also trained units in other states, including Mississippi, Indiana, New Jersey, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington, while at Fort Gillem.

The training covered a variety of areas, including educating soldiers on the latest combat techniques, and simulating a variety of settings the troops would encounter in other countries.

Robinson said he was deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq, from 2006 to 2007, and experienced the environment soldiers faced, first-hand. While he was stationed in the Middle East, he said, he oversaw sustainment operations there, which included transportation, ordinance and quarter-master units. The quarter-master units make sure soldiers have the items they need, such as water, ammunition, and other supplies, Robinson said.

The ordnance unit ensures that weapons systems, vehicles and equipment, are ready, available, and in working condition, around the clock, he added.

"I had a good idea, of the what the conditions were, and what they [soldiers] needed to be successful," said Robinson, on how his experience better assisted him in training soldiers, who were preparing to deploy overseas.

He added that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he was involved in transportation planning in Southwest Asia, and later, moved to Kuwait to fulfill another mission. "When 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' took effect, in March 2003, I was involved in the build-up of forces in Kuwait," he explained.

Robinson said he was born in 1951, in Durham, N.C., and grew up in the tar heel state. With the goal of attaining higher education, he said he attended North Carolina State University, in Raleigh, N.C., and was part of the Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC) program. The program provided him with scholarships, which helped him pay his college tuition.

Robinson said his motivation to become a part of the U.S. Army, was his father, who served in the U.S. Navy, during World War II. In 1973, Robinson obtained a bachelor's degree in forestry from North Carolina State University, and was commissioned to the U.S. Army, through the ROTC program, he said.

During his first year, he said said, he was deployed to Germany and worked for ordinance and maintenance-type units, until 1977. He said he met his wife while stationed in Germany, and they married in 1976.

After spending four years in Germany, he headed back to the states, where he began his civilian career at the Kimberly-Clark Corporation, in Mobile, Ala.

Robinson said he climbed his way up to logistics manager, and retired from the company in 2006. He said he fulfilled his duties for the U.S. Army, while working for the corporation. Robinson and his wife, Maureen, have three daughters, ages 29, 27 and 25. Currently, two of his daughters are chemical engineers, and one is a graphic designer, he added.

The retired major general said he will continue to work; however, it will be at a different pace, and he will be more selective when choosing a job. He said he is interested in being a consultant for the defense industry.