MSGT. H.G. Robby Robinson


Enlisting in the United States Air Force during March 1952 was an easy decision for Robinson as he would be following in his older brother’s footsteps. Robinson attempted to enlist in the United States Navy’s Underwater Demolition Training Program (a precursor of the present-day SEALS), but couldn't get a billet fast enough to get out of the South Bronx. Robinson remembers the Whitehall Street Recruitment Center and particularly sitting on the ice-cold marble seats waiting his turn to join in the mass confusion that seemed to swirl all around. 

While in USAF bootcamp, Robinson managed to retain some "civilian" clothes and after purchasing some basic fishing gear at the BX, he would trot down to the lake whenever he could. Taking risks was not new to Robinson, even at Sampson, nor has it ever diminished even to this day. As for Sampson AFB proper, the weather in this part of New York State was pretty cold and even though Robinson was in excellent physical shape, he managed to catch pneumonia as did many of his new-found buddies. Hospitalized for a week to ten days, Robinson had to change flights. Although memories have faded, Robinson doesn't remember which flight he graduated with nor does he have any documents or photos going back that far, he does remember shaving for the first time, his first cigarette, sleeping on the top bunk, sleeping standing up waiting to get into the mess hall in the morning, and apple butter; which was much more palatable than buttermilk. Robinson's barracks (second deck) was an old Navy barracks and the fable about a Number 5 butt can freezing overnight is real. Worst time in the barracks was washing the one-piece fatigues on the latrine/shower room floor using a bar of G. I. soap and a brush.

June 1952: The flight graduated and Robinson left Sampson AFB via Chicago by train to Lowry AFB, Denver, Colorado. The Electronic Fundamentals Course was taught at Lowry #1 and there were so many students due to SAC’s need for bomber gunners that the courses were taught in three shifts. Robinson drew “B’ Shift which suited him fine as he could have time to work out at the gym.

December 1952:  Robinson was alerted that he was being pipelined transferred to Fairchild AFB, Spokane, Washington. His sports and martial arts background (almost unheard of at the time) came up on a records search and Robinson found himself part of General Curtis E. LeMay’s cadre for the Strategic Air Command’s training of B-36 and B-52 aircrews and air police in escape and evasion combative measures. The same combatives course was taught to members of the AFROTC. Classes were held at the historic Fort George Wright located not far from Fairchild AFB.

Robinson left Spokane in December 1955 on the MATS troop ship, The USS General "Andy " Anderson, out of Oakland, CA for Yokohama Bay, Japan via Honolulu, Hawaii. After arriving in Japan, Robinson spent a few days at Tachikawa AFB and then flew on a noisy C-119 Flying Box Car to Chitose AFB, Hokkaido, Japan, and then on to Camp Crawford, Sapporo, Japan; a former US Army 1st Calvary post. In 1957 Robinson transferred to Fuchu AS’s Green Park, Tokyo, Japan. Green Park had at one time during WWII manufactured the majority of Japan’s aircraft engines. These engines were delivered underground through tunnels that ran from GP to Tachikawa Imperial Air Force Base.

In January 1959, Robinson PCS'd to the Security Services Detachment on South Post Fort Meyers, VA. Soon after, he assumed that HQ SAC found out he was back in the CONUS and somehow had slipped through the personnel reassignment cracks. In July 1959, Robinson received “Follow-On” PCS orders to McConnell AFB, Wichita, KS and back to teaching combatives, but this time B-47 combat aircrews.

In June 1961, a shortage of instructors at Barksdale AFB resulted in another PCS. Robinson really enjoyed his short stay at Barksdale, especially the mess hall’s seafood menu on Fridays. In July 1961, due to the retirement of the NCOIC of the aircrew training and physical conditioning unit in Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas, Robinson was once again notified that he had “Follow-On” orders.

Bergstrom was a rewarding assignment because Robinson ended up wearing several hats. Suffice to say, aside from his NCOIC duties, he became a general’s aide to BGen Clarence T. "Curly" Edwinson, and during President L. B. Johnson’s term, he had special projects assigned for hands-on upgrading the physical conditioning and stamina of several of the President’s key personnel in preparation for the President's world-tour. Robinson often quips that he will someday sit down and write his memoirs especially about his adventures in Austin, Texas. 

From July 1961- September 1966 Robinson served both the Strategic Air Command and then the Tactical Air Command when the mission changed from heavy nuclear equipped bombers to F-4 fighter jet aircraft. In September 1966, he was reassigned to HQ SAC, Offutt AFB, NE with the mission responsibility to re-energize the combative programs as well as the sport Judo program. However, as the aircrew combatives program began to dwindle down due to training time priorities and funding because of the USAF's mission in Southeast Asia, Robinson found himself again reassigned back to Bergstrom during February 1967. Not having a Southeast Asia tour on record and no longer under the priority assignment control of SAC, in February 1968, Robinson was alerted for the first of many SEA tours between the years 1968 - 1976.

Leaving Thailand in February 1969, Robinson found himself at Camp Brady, Hakata Annex, Tri-service Security, Itazuke AFB, Fukuoka, Japan.


In December 1970, Robinson was reassigned to Hickam AFB, Honolulu, Hawaii picking up a 74190 control AFSC as a Superintendent, Recreational Services. Not bad for an E-6!

Just as Robinson was really getting into the job, during June 1971, here comes an assignment to U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Base, Southern, Thailand. In 1972, Robinson PCS'd to Brooks AFB, San Antonio, Texas until February 1974, when he again found himself back on PCS orders for Takhli RTAFB, Southeast Asia, Thailand. This was a base closing assignment and as the gates closed at Takhli for the second time, Robinson was reassigned north to the remote town of Lampang; actually, Ko Kha Air Station, a hush-hush communications mission. Again, he wore several hats including replacing the command civic action officer who had taken ill and hospitalized at Tripler Hospital in Hawaii. On 29 May 1976, Robinson closed the MWR and civic action mission at Ko Kha AS and headed for U-Tapao RTNB for his final PCS to Castle AFB (SAC), Atwater, CA.

During this period, Robinson realized the bitter truth that he wasn’t getting any younger (41), rank seemed to evade most of SAC instructor types, his body was pretty beat up and moreover, he was way behind in his education goals. Robinson completed his college CLEP successfully during his short stay at Offutt and that was worth 30 college credits. Other college credits came from military tech schools and other courses which added up to 17 more college transfer credits, which saved him three full semesters.

Robinson submitted his retirement papers midway into 1976 and on December 31, 1976, flew out of Travis AFB, CA on New Year’s Eve, on his way back to Honolulu, Hawaii to begin a new chapter.