BACK TO BOB L. ROBINSON, MG, Ret
 

Back to TABLE of CONTENT

 

BOB L. ROBINSON, MG, Ret
Master Army Aviator & Parachutist
Army Helicopter Instructor
Germany 1958-1960
730 Lake Crest Cove
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701
407-260-9653


Manchester Dedication
The WWII photo exhibit now at Emma’s Family Restaurant contains two walls of photographs and copies of Camp Forest information material.
There are many pictures of soldiers, military equipment, and buildings, and even a 1941 photograph of Maj Gen George Patton Jr. and then Lt Colonel Mark Clark sitting on a sidewalk by a street in Manchester.  Both of these men became renowned four star Generals by war's end... READ ARTICLE

 
 
BACK TO
BOB L. ROBINSON, MG, Ret
 
 

Camp Forrest during World War II

 

Manchester Dedication

 

Manchester, Tennessee, April 13, 2003

-At Emma’s Family Restaurant, retired Maj. Gen. Bob Robinson said, "Freedom is preserved by the strong, IN SACRIFICE."

Having reached the rank of major general, Robinson does not need to advertise his own strength to too many.  Nor does he have to think too long about where he got his strength.

The general's father, Private First Class W .A. Robinson, gave his life after being wounded just 8 miles inland from Omaha Beach in July 1944 during the 30th Infantry Division’s on St. Lô, France.  PFC Robinson was but one of the 850,000 trainees who trained in the U. S. 2nd Army Tennessee Maneuvers in the Middle Tennessee counties near Camp Forrest.

Fortunately, his oldest son Bob saved some of his strength to research his father's past and that of Camp Forrest and with help from photographer Bob Couch of Tullahoma, an impressive exhibit of photographs, news stories, and other memorabilia was created and is now on display at Emma’s.  The unveiling of the exhibit took place Wednesday.  With Bob Robinson were his younger brother Boyd; Boyd's son David and family friend Bud McAlister, along with Couch and his sister Searcy Couch Hopkins.  Emma’s.  Proprietor Danny Scoggins said the exhibit would be on display indefinitely.

"Tennessee was the first site for a U. S. Army division size parachute assault in 1943, led by the "Father of the U. S, Army Airborne," Maj. Gen William Lee.  General Lee, while leading this Airborne Assault from the Tennessee sky, suffered a leg injured in a glider landing near Lafayette, Tenn.  He was treated as a patient in the 44th Evac Hospital training in the Tennessee Maneuvers, this being the same hospital unit that received the wounded P.F.C. W. A. Robinson in Normandy, France" on the 9th of July 1944.  Robinson said, "(and) Camp Forrest and the 21 counties of Middle Tennessee was the largest training center in America during World War II.”  Robinson read where Airborne leader, General Lee reportedly said "the next time I will come in by parachute."

P.F.C. W.A. Robinson, and his numerous GI buddies, probably did not know what to expect when he arrived at Camp Forrest.

Still, the man from Franklin, Tenn., volunteered to help his country in September 1942, leaving his life as a tenant farmer and his family, which included his wife Cornelia and three sons Bob, Baxter, and Boyd.

"He went in the Army to get a better education and get his family a better life, " Bob Robinson said. W.A.'s infantry training also took place at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, and Camp Blanding, Fla.

It was W. A. Robinson's destiny to be part of what some consider the most decisive operation of the entire war - the D-Day invasion on the French coast of Normandy.  He fulfilled the state motto “VOLUNTEERS” of so many Tennesseans before him and in doing so, earned eternal gratitude for his supreme sacrifice.

On July 9, 1944, G Company, 120th Inf Regt led the 30th Inf Div' s attack toward St. Lo, France, and less than 30 days after landing on Omaha Beach following D- Day, W.A. Robinson, radio bearer for company commander Capt. Walter Bunch and Private First Class Robert Shine, company runner, were advancing toward Co G' s line of defense under heavy attack by elements of the SS Panzer Div. "Das Reich" and Panzer Lehr.  While crossing a road near a house in an area that had the ironic name St. Jean De Daye, an 88-millimeter shell exploded near the three men.  The Nazi forces initiated a counterattack with elements of the 2d SS “Das Reich” Panzer Division and the SS Panzer Lehr Division with infantry, tanks, mobile flamethrowers, mortars, and deadly artillery.  A dreaded Nazi weapon of that fateful time was the Nazi 88 millimeter cannon.  "Nothing was more feared by the GIs than that," Bob Robinson said.

During the battle on 9 July 1944, history would record that on the entire Allied front in NORMANDY, the U. S. Army suffered the highest number of wounded and dead that fateful day.  During the 55-day period from D-Day 6 June to 31 July 1944, no other day in France would produce so many casualties or be so critical.

"PFC Shine was killed outright and Captain Bunch died within the hour,” Bob Robinson said.  His father suffered a serious neck injury and was initially treated in the U. S. Army 44th Evac Hospital.  On the morning of 10 July ’44, PFC Robinson was air evacuated on a C-47, taking off from a new airfield above the OMAHA BEACH to the 217th Gen Hosp about 35 miles SW of London, England, where he underwent major orthopedic surgery, but died from his wounds July 13, 1944.  He was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery.  His remains were returned to his hometown of Franklin, Tennessee in January 1949.

"We didn't know much about his death (back then)," the retired major general said, as brother Boyd recalled, it was Franklin police officer Oscar Garner who delivered the sad telegram in August 1944.  Across the heading of the telegram by the name of the Addressee, were the words “Do Not Telephone,” reflecting the impact of the information, as in other telegrams received by families of approximately 292,000 KIA’s or DOW (died of wounds) during WWII.

In August 1944, the Robinson family was very pleased to learn in a personal letter from the 44th Evac Hospital's Chaplain Walthall, that P.F.C. Robinson on the morning of July 10, 1994 prior to evacuation to the U .K., made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized before his comrades in his ward.  P.F.C. Robinson requested his membership be sent to the Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee, where his Memorial Service was held in August 1944.  Bob was 10 when his father died, while Boyd was six.  Bob had to age a few more years before starting his career in the Army.  He was a Distinguished Military Graduate in ROTC at Tennessee Tech, Cookeville, and, in his words, "I was most honored to be the first ROTC graduate inducted into the Tennessee Tech ROTC Hall of Fame.”

Bob Robinson did not have the intense combat experience his father did, but it is safe to say he had to do more than look nice in his Class A to achieve the rank of major general.  In the U. S. Army he earned the Master Army Aviator wings as a pilot in fixed and rotary wing aircraft, an instructor in Army utility helicopters at Stuttgart, Germany, and parachutist with jumps in North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division, and international jumps with the Israeli Defense Forces in 1988, and with the Royal Thai Special Warfare Forces at Lop Buri, Thailand in 1989.  He had several duty assignments in Germany last serving as an Inspector General.

On July 9, 1944, when the 120th Inf Regt led the 30th Inf Div' s attack toward St. Lo, France, and less than 30 days after landing on Omaha Beach following D- Day, W.A. Robinson, radio bearer for company commander Capt. Walter Bunch and Private First Class Robert Shine, company runner, were advancing toward Co “G’s” line of defense under heavy attack by elements of the SS Panzer Div. "Das Reich" and Panzer Lehr.  While crossing a road near a house in an area that had the ironic name St. Jean De Daye, an 88-millimeter shell exploded near the three men.

"Shine died immediately and Bunch died within the hour," Bob Robinson said.  His father suffered a serious neck injury to his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down, and was air evacuated to the 217th Gen Hospital in England, where he underwent orthopedic surgery, but died from his wounds July 13, 1944.  He was buried in England’s Brookwood Military Cemetery 13 July 1944, about 30 miles SW of London.  His remains were returned to Franklin, Tennessee in January 1949.

In August 1944, the Robinson family was very pleased to learn in a personal letter from the 44th Evac Hospital's Chaplain Walthall, that P.F.C. Robinson on the morning of July 10, 1994 prior to evacuation to the U .K, made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized before his comrades in his ward.  P.F.C. Robinson requested his membership be sent to the Methodist Church in Franklin, Tennessee, where his Memorial Service was held.

Bob was 10 when his father died, while Boyd was six.  Bob had to age a few more years before starting his career in the Army.  He was a distinguished military graduate in ROTC at Tennessee Tech and, in his words, "I was honored to be the first ROTC graduate inducted into the Tennessee Tech ROTC Hall of Fame."

Bob Robinson did not have the intense combat experience his father did, but it is safe to say he had to do more than look nice in his Class A to achieve the rank of major general.  He was a pilot in fixed and rotary wing aircraft, an instructor in Army utility helicopters and parachutist and had several duty assignments in Germany last serving eight years as an Inspector General.

While serving as an Army Reserve Officer in a major command in Alexander, Va., in which Maj Gen George Patton; the son of WW II’s famous General George Smith Patton, Jr., the U. S. Armor’s “Blood and Guts” icon was assigned.  Robinson had a private meeting with son Patton.  After a thought provoking discussion, with Maj Gen Patton asking details of the St. Lô Battle, Robinson determined he must make a concerted effort to track down more information about “his hero father, PFC Robinson.”

“I wrote the Army Records Center in St. Louis in 1989 to see if Dad was entitled to any medals or awards” he said, and it set me on a great quest to learn of his Dad’s path from the Williamson County community of Boston, to the event of his death in 1944.

The Robinson family was informed that P.F.C. Robinson was indeed due several belated honors for his service with the 30th "Old Hickory" Infantry Division.  Forty-four years after his demise, his family learned he had earned the Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman Badge, and The Purple Heart, and several campaign and invasion medals.  In 1989 PFC Robinson’s family received the belated medals from the U.S. Army.  Bob Robinson said.  “With PFC Robinson in barely 4 weeks of combat in Normandy, the paper work never got processed for timely award of these medals," but now the Robinson family shares appropriate pride in this delayed recognition of P.F.C. Robinson's sacrifice for their Freedom and the liberation of France and other European Countries.

In 1986, Robinson located Bill Goble, a 30th Infantry Div veteran of Seymour, Indiana, an eyewitness who saw P.F.C. Robinson fall in battle.  He was able to describe the house, road and where PFC Robinson was wounded.  During the last 20 years, Maj. Gen. Robinson visited Normandy 10 times.  He made several trips to Washington, D.C. to research WWII Army records in the National Archives.  With copies of maps and unit reports, and Bill Goble’s information, June 6, 1993, exactly 49 years after D-Day Robinson located the site in France where his father was wounded. Bob Robinson is not the first person bitten by a history bug, especially when it concerns World War II.  He decided to collect more WW II historical memorabilia and received assistance from a bona fide expert, Bob Couch of Tullahoma.  Bob Couch is the proud holder of the last American 48 star flag to fly over Camp Forrest after it was lowered in 1946.

The WWII photo exhibit now at Emma’s Family Restaurant contains two walls of photographs and copies of Camp Forest information material.

There are many pictures of soldiers, military equipment, and buildings, and even a 1941 photograph of Maj Gen George Patton Jr. and then Lt Colonel Mark Clark sitting on a sidewalk by a street in Manchester.  Both of these men became renowned four star Generals by war's end.

People inevitably go their separate ways.  Bob Robinson lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Boyd Robinson, who put in six years in the Tennessee Air National Guard, but worked mostly in medical services, lives in Fayetteville, Ga. Baxter the middle brother lives in Arrington, Tennessee and served in the Tennessee National Guard.

The exhibit may take on special meaning now with the war in Iraq, and Bob Robinson mentioned he is highly pleased with the competence with which the operation is proceeding and the fact that today, 9 April 2003, American units entered Baghdad, Iraq.  And if these WWII pictures and memories now showing at Emma’s show how much men like W.A. Robinson are willing to give and by their selfless acts demonstrate how much destiny can intercept the role large scale military maneuvers brings to a locale like Camp Forrest, Tennessee and the 21 counties which made up the U. S. Second Army Tennessee Maneuvers.

Moreover, there is no guaranteeing how people will be affected.  As Bob Robinson put it, “You are what you are as a result of the circumstance of the time.”

Bob’s 20 years of research has made him somewhat of a recognized WW II historian about the U.S. Army’s June – July 1944 activities from Omaha Beach to St. Lô, a vital town which served as the headquarters of a major Nazi Command with excellent communications and road network   In April 2004, he contributed photos and materials to producers of NBC News, in their preparation of a documentary entitled “Back to Normandy with Tom Brokaw 2004.”  This program was prepared by NBC for the Discovery Channel and first shown June 6, 2004.  It’s major focus was WW II U. S. Army combat in Normandy Invasion’s “Battle of the Hedgerows” and the 30th Infantry Division’s participation in taking St. Lô in July 1944.

For 2006, Bob Robinson’s major effort over the next 3 – 4 months is the preparation of his collection of WW II photographs, artifacts, and historical memorabilia to be on permanent display in the Williamson County Archives at the invitation of Mrs. Louise Lynch, Director contingent upon approval of Mr. Rogers Anderson, Williamson County Mayor.  MAYOR ANDERSON REFUSED TO ACCEPT THE DONATION UNLESS ROBINSON AGREED TO INDEMNIFY WILLIAMSON COUNTY FOR ALL LEGAL FEES & EXPENSES SHOULD ANY PARTY LAY CLAIM TO ANY ITEM IN THE COLLECTION.  THE ROBINSON FAMILY FELT THIS WAS AN INSULT TO THE FACT THAT P.F.C. Robinson HAD MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE THAT ENABLED MAYOR ANDERSON TO EVEN SEEK THE OFFICE FROM WHICH HE NOW EXERCISED HIS UNREASONABLE DEMAND OF FURTHER RETRIBUTION FROM THE ROBINSON FAMILY.

©  Bob L. Robinson, 2005