AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Richard Robinson
By Christine Baldwin | Librarian
Richard Robinson was born in New Jersey. He had two sisters and two brothers. Both of his parents died when he was a young teenager, and his older brother became his guardian. His two older brothers were in World War II, one a Merchant Marine and the other in the U.S. Navy. When they would come home on leave, they shared their stories with Richard. This made him want to join the military, so while still in high school, his oldest brother signed the papers for him to join the U.S. Army for a two-year enlistment. Richard went to Fort Dix, New Jersey for basic training and then went to clerk typist school for his roles in administration. At Fort Hamilton, New York, Richard worked mostly with processing dependents and their sponsors going and coming back from Germany. He then went to Camp Stoneman, California to process those coming back from Korea and the Far East. Because of the Korean War, Richard’s enlistment was extended for a year. So he thought, “Why don’t I just reenlist for six years?” From then on it was a career.
Richard’s next orders were for Korea. Thinking he would be assigned to the front, Richard was surprised one day when the sergeant in charge asked if any of the new men could type. Apparently, the Eighth Army headquarters had fallen behind in their correspondence and needed help. He along with three others volunteered. It only took a week to get HQ back on track, but the sergeant was impressed and asked if they would like to be stationed there. They all said yes. Richard was then sent to Seoul to work in their message center. It was here that he got his secret clearance and went from corporal to sergeant. (He also had a scary moment and it came from one of his new men. Early one morning, he took a newbie to early chow. Richard had told the man to take out his live ammunition from his gun, but the man didn’t. Richard was in the front seat and the man, who was in the back seat, accidentally pulled the trigger and missed hitting Richard by inches.) After 18 months, Richard transferred to Japan and made Sergeant First Class. He also received the Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. Richard was also able to tour the country, seeing the Buddha and various shrines.
After returning home, Richard spent the next four years at Governor’s Island (near the Statue of Liberty). It was here that he met his future wife, who was a WAC at the hospital. Just before leaving for his next station in France where he would be working at the U.S. Army Chemical Agency, Richard’s son was born. This changed their plans to an unaccompanied tour, and his wife, who had left the service, stayed home with their new baby. After six months, though, they were reunited and Richard was stationed at Poitier, France. It was here that Richard made E-7. It was also at this time that the Berlin Wall was built and everyone was on put on high alert. In fact, Richard’s tour was extended to August of 1962. He then put in for an advisor role in New England and got stationed at Fort Devens, Mass. and then Manchester, N.H. His job was to take care of the enlisted men and he was later promoted to Master Sergeant.
Next, Richard went to Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, where he was First Sergeant of Company A of the First Battalion. He liked it here because he was close to where his sister and his best friend lived and could visit them. Richard was sent back to Seoul, Korea at the Kimpo Air Force Base for thirteen months, where he was First Sergeant of the 176th Replacement Co., processing all the officers that came into Korea. Later he was promoted to Sergeant Major. He then went to Natick Labs in Massachusetts, which did research and development for clothing, food and equipment for the Army. This is where he retired in 1971 after 23 years.
Richard next career was in the insurance industry in Boston, Mass. Unfortunately this involved a lot of commuting, so six months later Richard took a lower-paying job close to home with an electronics company. It was at this point that he used the GI Bill to go to college getting a degree in business management. After a few more jobs, Richard retired again. At this time both of his children were working here; son Rick in Rockville and daughter Karen (who joined the U.S. Navy) at Bethesda. After some health problems, he and wife Kay moved to the region.