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Veteran's Valor Heroic Actions Earn Marine Bronze Star
by Nathan L. Hanks Jr. - May 17, 2012

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Marine Corps Logistics Base ALBANY Ga. (MCN - 5/10/2012) — He said it was all part of the job; however, receiving the nation's fourth highest combat award indicates he did more.

Willie J. Robinson receives the Bronze Star with Combat V for valor during a ceremony in front of family, friends, Marines and civilian-Marines at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, May 1, 2012 for heroic actions while deployed south of DaNang, Vietnam, in 1965. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Nathan L. Hanks Jr.
Willie J. Robinson receives the Bronze Star with Combat V for valor during a ceremony in front of family, friends, Marines and civilian-Marines at Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, May 1, 2012 for heroic actions while deployed south of DaNang, Vietnam, in 1965. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Nathan L. Hanks Jr.
  Willie J. Robinson was presented the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for valor by Maj. Gen. Charles Hudson, commanding general, Marine Corps Logistics Command, during a ceremony held at Covella Pond, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, May 1.

Robinson received the award 46 years later for heroic actions while deployed to Da Nang, Vietnam, Dec. 10, 1965.

According to his award citation, Robinson, a 21-year-old lance corporal, served as an assistant rocket gunner with Delta Company 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

He was serving with a security force assigned to protect a disabled helicopter and its crew while deployed to an enemy-controlled area south of Da Nang, Vietnam, when a Viet Cong force initiated a heavy volume of small arms and automatic weapons fire during a determined attempt to overrun the position.

In the vicious firefight, one of the Marines was critically wounded. With complete disregard for his own safety, Robinson ran from his covered
position through overwhelming fire and took a position between the Viet Cong and his wounded comrade.

Firing aggressively on the enemy position, Robinson succeeded in turning back the Viet Cong attack and enabled the evacuation of the wounded Marine. His resolute effort in thwarting the enemy assault undoubtedly prevented additional casualties among Marines in the area, according to the citation.

After the citation was read aloud in front of family, friends, Marines and civilian-Marines, Hudson addressed the crowd.

“Being a Marine leader, you jump at the opportunity to represent a command and the awarding of an award to an individual who is a true hero,” Hudson said. “The first line of the citation says ‘heroic action' and I will tell you, from my perspective, there were many heroic actions indicated in that citation for this one man.

“The words of the citation at this late date probably don't give you a feel for what I imagine it was like on December 10, 1965,” he said. “It is December and it is still hot in South Vietnam and it is hotter when enemy fire is coming your way. It's even hotter when you see a fellow Marine go down, critically wounded, and the enemy continues to fire at you.

“It is extremely hot when you make a personal decision to get up from your covered position and run to the sounds of the guns to place yourself between the wounded Marine and incoming fire, putting down suppressing fire, driving the enemy away so the wounded Marine could be evacuated,” Hudson said.

Robinson put his own life on the line for another Marine, according to Hudson. “That's what Marines do. That's what we expect of our Marines, but it is not an easy task to do when it is your life you are putting in harm's way,” Hudson said.

For his selfless act, Robinson was recommended and approved for the medal, but did not receive it. Sadly in the fog of war, sometimes awards do not reach the intended Marines, according to Kent Morrison, executive director, MCLB Albany.

Several months ago, Robinson, senior projectionist, Marine Corps Community Services, MCLB Albany, asked Lt. Col. Daniel L. Bates, executive officer, and Sgt. Maj. Conrad E. Potts, sergeant major, both with MCLB Albany, to assist him in tracking down his award. “He had some very old paperwork that showed his award, but he had never officially been presented with the medal,” Bates said. “We worked with Headquarters Marine Corps Awards Branch to validate the award and matched it with Marine Forces Pacific's historical records. We discovered the original awarding authority was Maj. Gen. A. R. Kier in 1966.” Forty-six years later, through good efforts from MCLB Albany's leadership and diligent work from Headquarters Marine Corps, Robinson was presented his long overdue award.

“Lance Corporal Robinson did not ask for a ceremony, he just wanted to track down a medal he should have received more than forty years ago,” Bates said. “We wanted to recognize one of our own, a true hero - a Marine who went above and beyond the call of duty to save another Marine.”

Hudson thanked Robinson for his service then and now.

“Thank you for the example you provide for the young Marines today. I hope you know those who wear the uniform today attempt to live up to the legacy your Marines provided to us in that war so long ago and hopefully we live up to your expectations,” he said. “I am honored to serve with you and I salute you.”

“(I accept) this award (on behalf) of all Marines of 1/7,” Robinson said. “It gives me great honor (to receive this award) 46 years later.”

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr.
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany
Marine Corps News
Copyright 2012

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