From a very young age, SPC Thomas Robinson dreamed of becoming a Navy SEAL. He wanted the thrill and excitement of conducting clandestine counter-guerilla warfare operations and underwater demolitions missions, so he enlisted in the Army.
Doesn't make much sense, does it? Allow me to explain.
You see, Robinson met a girl. And even though she was very patriotic and respected all branches of the military, she came from a family with a long line of men and women who served in the Army, clear back to the American Revolution. So to make her happy, he enlisted in the Army Reserves.
A native of Bascom, Florida, Robinson enlisted on September 11, 1989 and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
He figured that if he couldn't be a SEAL he would take the next best thing to find the excitement he was looking for and chose to be a Combat Engineer.
He served 14 years in the Reserves and the National Guard while working full time taking care of his family.
One day while looking for a job in Tacoma, Washington he stopped by a recruiter's office to ask about reenlisting.
He had been discharged five years prior after fulfilling his final contract. He was told by the recruiter that his chances of reenlistment were slim because of his age.
By now he was 37 years old and would probably need to complete basic training again. Nonetheless, he decided to give it a shot.
"Luckily this was close to the start of the Iraq war and they needed soldiers," Robinson said. He was able to reenlist in the National Guard without repeating basic training.
He signed his new contract on November 17, 2005, and was assigned to Camp Murray, right outside of Fort Lewis, with orders to report on December 3rd. Two days later he completed the paperwork to volunteer for duty in Iraq.
Less than a month later he received his deployment orders to report to Fort Bliss, Texas on February 4, 2006.
Robinson spent nine months in Iraq attached to 505th BN of the North Carolina National Guard. Immediately upon arriving at Camp Anaconda, he was assigned to man a .50 caliber machine gun on the Colonels personal security detail (PSD).
On March 13, 2006, his first mission out, he was in the gun turret atop a Humvee when he suffered his first of six direct IED blasts. He would suffer his second direct hit less than 24 hours later.
The multiple IED blasts took their mental and physical toll on Robinson.
Medical exams performed in country and after returning home found that Robinson had suffered a shattered left ear canal, two shattered vertebrae in his back and he was suffering from severe Post-Traumatic Stress.
For two years he was hospitalized several times from treatment and surgeries to repair the damage. Finally, in 2009 he was sent before the Medical Evaluation Board and it was determined that he was no longer fit for duty.
During his military service Robinson was awarded the Army Commendation Award (ARCOM), Army Achievement Medal (AAM), Iraq Campaign Medal with Arrowhead, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Combat Action Badge and a Purple Heart.
Just in case you're wondering, Robinson is still with that girl.