MSGT. H.G. Robby Robinson
HUMANITARIAN PROJECTS - THAILAND
* ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
Takhli RTAFB, Thailand: 1968
Takhli RTAFB, Thailand: 1969
U-Tapao RTNB, Thailand: 1971
U-Tapao RTNB, Thailand: 1972
Takhli RTAFB, Thailand: 1974
Takhli RTAFB, Thailand: 1975
Ko Kha Air Station, Thailand: 1976
* Miscellaneous Visits: 1998-2003
* Prachucheun, Thailand Resident: 2003-2005
* Southeast Asia (SEA) Executive Director for Civic Welfare Projects, USAF Air Command Association/Special Operations - McCoskrie/Threshold Foundation
Departing Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas in February 1968, Robinson arrived at Tan San Nhut Airfield, Saigon, South Viet Nam, soon after the main attack by the Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet Offensive which officially ended on 31 March 1968. Robinson’s orders took him forward to Thailand’s Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base supporting the F-105 “Thud” fighter bomber mission. Here at Takhli his reputation and the need to improve the base security program against possible insurgency and the ongoing “Sapper” concerns, Robinson appeared to be continuing his former military career wearing several hats as an USAF Strategic Air Command Combatives and Security Police Tactics Escape and Evasion Armed and Unarmed Close Ground Combat Instructor, Civic Actions Officer and Superintendent of USAF Recreation Services.
During his first Southeast Asia tour, Robinson created, designed and instructed the first close ground combative hand-to-hand fighting program for 500+ U.S. military Security Police personnel, Royal Thai Air Force Security Force Personnel, and local law-enforcement agencies in central Thailand. Robinson was decorated by the Royal Thai Security Forces Supreme Regiment Command (Regimental Badge of Honor 2nd Class).
At Takhli RTAFB in 1968, Robinson also teamed up with the late Kajukenbo Grandmaster, Richard Peralta to introduce Kenpo Karate, Judo and Jujitsu developing the largest martial arts program on any of the seven in-country Thailand US military bases and those in South Vietnam.
In view of his many selfless acts of Goodwill, Sergeant Robinson earned the Thai nickname of “G. I. Jai Bun”, translated as G. I. Good Heart. Numerous civic action projects in 1968-1969 included renovating an elementary school located in the nearby the village Ban Wang Kang. This included pouring concrete floors, construction of an essential water tower and water storage tanks, and repairs and construction of school furniture. Another major project was "Helping Hand" involved procuring and distributing, more than 3,000 pounds, school and personal hygiene supplies, to 5 villages around the Takhli area.
Robinson continued his humanitarian efforts with such projects as, Project “Genki Denki” (Bright Light). Robinson collected over $3,500.00 by raffling off many of his personal assets at a VFW convention held in Okinawa, Japan. Items included a Schwinn 10-speed racing bicycle, 20-gauge magnum shotgun, binoculars, and a Gibson electric guitar with amp.
In 1971, through coordination with then Colonel Chaloey Warintrakom, RTAF, the Thai Electric Authority provided equal funds and installed electricity to the entire village of Ban Wang Kang (located below Hill 260, Takhli, Thailand).
The back story behind the project began during Robinson’s going away party as he had received orders for assignment at Camp Brady, Japan. The party was held at the home of Robinson’s civilian crew’s manager in the village of Ban Wang Kang. There was no electricity in this rather large village, not even a single light pole. Electricity was produced by a small gasoline operated generator. As the party continued, the need to refill the gasoline container (a very, very large bottle) was required. One of Robinson’s NCO’s said that he would take his motor bike and one of the villagers to the service station outside the village. A short time later the NCO returned carrying the large bottle of gasoline on his shoulder and a lit cigarette dangling from his mouth! Pandemonium didn’t exactly break out however, the facts were noted and after the bottle was stowed a long distance from the festivities, Robinson inquired as to why there wasn’t electricity in the village! Along the highway and all throughout the town of Takhli, electricity was prevalent. The Puyai Ban, or village chief, who was also present, said that it would be about ten years before Bang Wang Kang would see any electricity. Right then and there Robinson made a promise that he would make sure that electricity would come to those people in Ban Wang Kang much sooner … a promise that he surely kept.
Mission driven and although stationed for relatively short assignments at Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas, as well as Camp Brady, Hakata Annex, Tri-Service Security, Fukuoka, Japan, Thailand’s medical and educational needs were not far from Robinson's mind or heart.
However, even though offered a job at PACAF Headquarters in the Protocol Division and/or an Aide to a General Officer, Robinson knew that he had not completed serving in the Southeast Asia Theatre of Operation and opted to return to SEA and continued training U.S. and Royal Thai Security Force personnel as well as expanding his military roles as an USAF Civic Action Officer and his skills of a Superintendent of USAF Recreation Services while assigned to U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Base, Thailand where he served admirably from 1971 - 1972.
Robinson returned to SEA and continued training U.S. and Royal Thai Security Force personnel as Robinson continued to live up to his well-earned Thai accolade of G.I. Jai Boon.
Between 1971 - 1972 five major projects were undertaken.
1. Project "Thai Tots" coordinated the collection, transportation and distribution of clothing, school, and medical supplies from Hickam AFB, Hawaii to 8 villages near the Takhli, RTAFB. It was during this distribution process that Robinson discovered a young Thai boy named Prasert who had massive facial birth defects. It was then that Project "Yim" (Smile) was formed.
2. During Project “Yim”, funds were obtained to offset the costs of corrective plastic surgery. Coordination with the RTAF medical staff provided a surgeon in Bangkok. Following 3 surgical operations in Bangkok, Robinson reunited Prasert with his family in Takhli providing Prasert the opportunity to live a complete and productive life. (Addendum: Prasert finished school grew up was able to marry and have 2 children. In May 1999 Prasert was killed in a motorcycle accident.)
3. Project “Angel Face” raised over $1,500.00 to offset costs for an operation of a 9-month year old baby girl (brain tumor) of Thai employee (janitor) at Headquarters, 635th CSG, U-Tapao RTNB.
4. Project “Thai Tots II” airlifted, through Kelly AFB, Texas, 4,000 pounds of clothing, medical and school supplies to Takhli RTAFB, Thailand.
5. Project “Kokua” (Project Gift), furthered efforts to collect clothing for North and Northeast Thailand.
Robinson's positive contributions were again prominently recognized by Royal Thai military officials and he was decorated by the Royal Thai Air Force Security Forces with the coveted, Sergeant Major 1st Class, Supreme Regimental Badge of Honor 1st Class and the Royal Thai Air Force “Skydiver” Wing Badge. Departing U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Base, Sattihip, Thailand in 1972, Robinson was reassigned to Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas.
In 1973, Robinson received a telephone call from Major Gordon Reeves Carmichael. Major Carmichael, a close friend of Robinson’s back in the mid 60’s in Austin, Texas where Major Carmichael was attending the University of Texas, had been looking for Robinson and found him through the personnel division at Randolph. Major Carmichael was working for General Brent Scowcroft at the White House.
In 1974, looking for a space available ride to Bowling AFB, Robinson accompanied General George Shaffer, Air Force Systems Division Commander, Brooks AFB, San Antonio, to the Pentagon, Washington D.C.
Arriving at the tarmac with General Shaffer at the Pentagon was sort of comical. Upon debarking the aircraft, General Shaffer was met by a rather plain looking typical blue staff car. Seconds after the Generals’ staff car had arrived, Robinson was met by a rather stylish Mercedes, driven by Major Carmichael, in his Major’s uniform. As Major Carmichael opened the door and waved Robinson in, General Shaffer just smiled and told Robinson that he’ll see him in two days, same place, same aircraft, and probably same staff car!
The following day Robinson looked for a former Colonel at the Pentagon he had met at a Red River pilot’s event at Takhli. After finding the office he was searching for, he knocked on the door of then, General Daniel “Chappie” James Jr., a stand out fighter pilot who had been stationed at Korat RTAFB, Thailand. After reacquainting himself with the general, he heard the words he was waiting for, “What can I help you with Master Sergeant?” To make a long story short, with General James’ intervention, Robinson was reassigned back to Takhli, Thailand in June 1974. Robinson was subsequently decorated with the Royal Thai Security Force Regiments First Class Regimental Badge, an award usually designated for commissioned officers.
With the Vietnam War ending, missions of the U.S. Forces in Thailand began to change in lieu of their projected departure. Robinson's duties were contingent on base closures. After assisting with the second closure of Takhli AFB, Robinson was assigned up north to Ko Kha Air Station, Lampang, Thailand. Wearing several hats including that of the command civic action officer, Robinson was part of the team that closed Ko Kha A.S. in late May 1976. Robinson reported to U-Tapao, RTNB with final assignment to Castle AFB, Atwater, California, as the Command Superintendent of Recreational Services.
During the period between 1974 –1976, MSGT William “Bill” Waterfield, was a field advisor for General Heine Aderholt, Commanding General, JUSMAGTHAI and the last General Officer to leave Southeast Asia.
Waterfield and Robinson were good friends since 1968, in Takhli, Thailand where they were both assigned. In 1974, Waterfield introduced Robinson to General Aderholt and this was the beginning of a long and enduring friendship between Robinson and the General.
Robinson's joint assignment at Ko Kha as the Civic Actions Officer offered opportunities to continue to provide civic welfare programs for both the RTAF Security Guard unit and local community. These humanitarian projects continued to sustain improvement to the underprivileged. Projects included:
1. A child was crawling on a street in Takhli next to Charn’s Restaurant begging. Project “Walk Away” was launched.
2. Also, in Ban Nong Pradu, Robinson sponsored 2 additional Thai youths requiring corrective facial surgery due to polio and other extensive birth defects. With the assistance of Air Chief Marshall Chaloey Warintrakom (then Major, Takhli RTAFB Security Battalion Commander), funds were raised by Robinson so that the children could be provided a comprehensive medical evaluation by U.S. military doctors assigned to Takhli RTAF and treated at the Royal Thai Army Medical Center in Bangkok, Thailand.
3. Project “Tamboon” (Merit) in the town of Lampang, Robinson raised over $1,500.00 to construct a large home, at no financial cost, for a widow and her seven children. Construction was accomplished by volunteer-teams of RTAF Security Guards and USAF airmen and Coast Guard men and officers working side-by-side. Thai TV picked this up and the news became a national event thus portraying the presence of Americans in a good light much to the chagrin of the insurgents moving in and around many of the Thai bases where Americans were stationed.
4. Project “Chui” (Help) converted a parcel of land from a large garbage/trash dump to a garden and playground in Ko Kha, Thailand providing significant results. The area became free of snakes and rats, no garbage, no smells, less illness, garden resulted in more food, better diets and increased personal savings.
5. While preparing to shut down Ko Kha, Robinson received approval to salvage and redistribute large quantities of equipment, tools, medical and recreational supplies, and basic necessities.
High School: Tools and school supplies
Royal Thai Police Academy, Bangkok: Photo lab to the forensic training center
RTAF Officer's Academy: Wrestling mats and other sports and fitness training equipment
Thai RTAF Civic Action Program: Clothing and furnishings
Even after retiring from the USAF, Robby, and wife Renee, continue volunteer civic action/humanitarian projects which are aimed at improving the health and welfare of Thai children and those in need far removed from the major urban cities. Continued projects included:
* Financial responsibility to provide free school lunches at the Ban Muang Noi elementary school, Takhli, Thailand for 3 school years
* Provided financial support to construct a Medical Library in the Health Center at Ban Thapasak, near Doi Kun Tan, Thailand
* Project “Kwan Metta” (Compassion) obtained medical equipment and supply support for the Mae Ta Hospital and the Ban Thapasak Medical Center and the seven villages that it serves
* Collected and distributed 500 jackets/coats to villages in rural Chang Mai area
* Provided financial support to renovate/construct Ban Muang Noi Elementary school
* Provided technology, school supplies, medical supplies and sports supplies to local Takhli schools