NO. 17804 • 24 June 1927 – 21 September 1950
Died 21 September 1950 in Japan, aged 23 years
Interment: Battle Creek, Michigan
THE TERSE OFFICIAL caption behind the name of First Lieutenant Robert W. Robinson reads, "Died Japan, (wds. Korea) 21 September 1950." Nothing particularly unusual in announcements such as this during the late summer of 1950 as the Korean War intensified. And all too frequently did comparable releases seem to refer to members of the just graduated Class of 1950. That abbreviated heading quoted above tells us only about the conclusion, or the final chapter, of a life's story: it speaks nothing of the beginning nor does it describe anything that went beforehand. And much went on in the earlier pages even though the book of Robby's life is short.
Only slightly more than 100 days previous was it when Robby and the rest of the Class of 1950 flung hats in joy and pride for having graduated from the United States Military Academy. In that 100 plus days before he was to be killed in combat Robby had enjoyed graduation leave - including a fishing excursion in Michigan ‑ been shipped to Korea to join his unit as an infantry officer, engaged in combat, received a promotion to first lieutenant and been mortally wounded.
One of four children in the family of John and Helen Robinson, Robert Webb Robinson was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, on 24 June 1927. Later his family moved to Michigan and in 1945 Robby graduated from Battle Creek High School where he earned varsity letters in basketball and football. An Army brat, his father, USMA '15, became a general ‑ it was inevitable that he would attend West Point. Doing so was the fulfillment of a goal long sought, and he followed the footsteps of his brother as well. It was equally certain that upon graduation he would choose the branch of his distinguished father ‑ the Infantry. Oftentimes during his days as a cadet could Robby be overheard referring to that branch as "the Queen of Battle."
Barely a few months passed following graduation from high school before Robby enlisted in the US Army. In those days he was but a private and he served on active duty until a few days prior to entering the Academy. During much of that time he attended the USMA Prep School where his appetite for West Point was further stimulated. He was sworn in a new cadet at West Point in July of 1946 with an at‑large presidential appointment, and anxiously joined the Class of 1950.
As a cadet, Robby was active in the 100th Night Show each of his years at West Point. He also was vice‑president of the Dialectic Society. He became an accomplished lacrosse player and enjoyed a wide range of sports. Perhaps most notable of his activities as a cadet was that of Company A‑1 representative to the Duty Committee. There never was a doubt in anyone's mind that he was uniquely tailored to fit that role, for no one had a greater sense of responsibility than he.
From this distance, how to portray succinctly a realistic picture of this courageous and honorable friend requires reflection. Surely he was serious, but far from a bore. Robby was composed, yet rarely neutral. He was eager yet not a zealot. He was dependable but hardly demure, and quick witted but certainly not giddy. What says it all is to state he was genuine. It is no exaggeration to exclaim that Robby epitomized the concept of an officer and a gentleman, for he was universally respected.
To speculate that but for his early passing Robby would have contributed significantly to the US Armed Forces he so loved would be easy to do. On the other hand, it also would be unnecessary and unappreciative to so conjecture. Robby rendered much to the military history ‑ to be sure he gave his all ‑ in the few months he was commissioned. He merely fulfilled his duty and completed his work on earth by early manhood. What he did was to establish sooner than most his niche in the Long Gray Line.
Robby was serving in combat with Company B, 9th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea when inflicted with wounds in the neck and face which less than two days later were to claim his life, after he was evacuated to a hospital in Japan. Interestingly enough, some three years earlier his mother also lost her life in Korea while General Robinson was on occupation duty there.
Curiously, the concluding words of the 1950 Howitzer narrative about him read, "We wish you luck, Robby boy." Some would insist that his luck was to run out all too soon on that battlefield in the remote nation of Korea. But others may well pause to consider that ‑ with his high sense of values and loyalty to cause ‑ there truly was no misadventure at all; it was in war that this most noble soldier was destined to enter, at such a young age, eternal peace.
For solace, his classmates know full well that, to Robby, ever near was his Alma Mater dear.