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Airman's Mom Keeps Him Spinning
by U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
May 23, 2023

When you step into the office of  Air National Guard Capt. Anthony Robinson, 168th Wing Communications Squadron commander, you will see his family means a lot to him. It won't be apparent how much until you ask him questions about the bookcases and desktops adorned with wrestling belts.

May 11, 2023 - Capt. Anthony Robinson, 168th Communications Squadron commander, at his office in front of bookshelves adorned with wrestling championship belts representing his wife, mother, grandmother, and other family members. The wrestling belts are on display in his office, reminding him of his loved ones, his family’s inspiration, memories spent with family, where he has come from, and his upbringing. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey.)
May 11, 2023 - Capt. Anthony Robinson, 168th Communications Squadron commander, at his office in front of bookshelves adorned with wrestling championship belts representing his wife, mother, grandmother, and other family members. The wrestling belts are on display in his office, reminding him of his loved ones, his family’s inspiration, memories spent with family, where he has come from, and his upbringing. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey.)

"My mom has always been that consistency in my life as a kid, and even now, as a 41-year-old man, I still look for my mom for advice on certain things because she sees things differently than I do."

The wrestling belt prominent on the shelf with a bright shiny spinner is dedicated to his mom.

"My mom always kept me spinning – No matter what I wanted to do, whether it was stupid, fun, or out on the ledge," said Robinson. "She never told me you couldn't do it. She always told me to reach for the skies no matter what it was. Whatever obstacle was in front of me, I could always overcome it because I always had her."

Robinson has served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for almost 20 years. He began his career as an electrician at Beale Air Force Base and transferred to Eielson Air Force Base, where he met friends in the Guard and moved to the 168th Logistics Squadron. He was later commissioned as an officer serving in the 168th Medical Group and then selected as the 168th Communications Squadron commander.

Lined along the walls of his office are wrestling belts for each family member and how they help and influence him in his life.

Robinson said his strength comes from his family, especially the women in his life, "I decided to dedicate the belts to my mom and grandmother because I grew up in a household full of women and raised by all women. My grandfather and uncle were present, but most of my upbringing was from women. The five women all had a part in my life to make me who I am as a man today."

Family motivates Robinson daily as he serves in the Alaska Air National Guard and steps into his office as a commander.

"Everything I have done seems like it was paved for me– It's been laid out," said Robinson. "I just had to do the work to get it. I'm a momma's boy and a grandmother's boy. I was the first grandchild in my family. My grandmother took me under her wing and guided me. She was rough, but I loved it. As a kid, I hated it, but now I understand why she did it."

As you look around the room, you see many wrestling belts, such as the one for his grandmother with the words hardcore across the belt.

"My grandmother was Jesus' best friend," said Robinson. "She was hardcore on faith and believed in something better than herself. Giving to people, being a blessing, is the small thing we forget that makes us human. She engrained that into me as a kid."

Continuing to describe the heart of his grandmother Robinson said, "I have never seen race growing up as a kid. I saw people. I know people with different colors. I wasn't color blind, but we never viewed people in that way or mistreated people. Even though she came from an area of the world that was this way, she never put that in us. She was always a blessing to people. We always have had and always gave to people who didn't have. I say she is hardcore because she knew where she wanted us to be as a family, and we did it as a family. We had family success and individual success."

"Her foundational principle and faith in God inspired us and made us all have a solid foundation as a family, said Robinson. "She always told us to put God first and everything else second, and that's how we lived our lives, which is why I have her belt. My grandmother was hardcore but loved me. Most people say, 'I would have never survived' I tell them you will survive because she wasn't doing it out of hurt. She was doing it out of love. She knew what she went through, so she didn't want us to go through it."

Robinson and his wife have matching belts representing their team.

"I call her my tag team partner for life," said Robinson. "I wouldn't be sitting here if I didn't have her to motivate me. I talk myself out of things instead of talking myself into it. She pushes me when I need to be motivated and encourages me when I need to be encouraged. She tells me when I'm in the wrong when I need to be told. She is always going to be my sounding board in life. I couldn't do what I do as a commander, husband, and father if I didn't have a good tag team partner."

Mother's Day is very special to him because of the many women in his life. Robinson said, "I have been blessed to have a lot of good women in my life. It's not just my mom. My mother-in-law is amazing. The way she helps me, she takes a lot of burdens off me while I'm TDY or working every day."

"I can't do enough for the women in my life," said Robinson. "I've always viewed my mom as an important figure to protect. Because growing up without a father, I didn't have anything if I lost her. I wanted to keep that protected. Most of us forget we have a mom doing the best she can. My mom did that, providing for us no matter what."

The wrestling belts also represent memories he shared with his family.

"It was a wrestling thing – a family thing," said Robinson. "That's how we bonded. We used to sit and eat pizza and popcorn. We used to sit and watch them as a family whenever they had them; we had pay-per-views. It was my great-grandmother's thing. She loved wrestling. It was just the action, the storyline, and stuff like that. We grew up as a family like that."

"This is why I have this stuff in my office to know why I am here and how I got here," said Robinson. "It was always family– family first. No matter what we did in my family. In Chicago, it was always family. We did everything as a family. We fell as a family, grew as a family, and succeeded. I believe that's why we, as a family, have so many success stories. It would be mind-blowing to people if I told you all the success stories in my family out of one family. It is all because of how we were raised."

Robinson shared how his great-grandmother wanted more for their family.

"She grew up when segregation was terrible and couldn't read or write. She taught herself all this stuff. She didn't want us to feel the same way she did in Mississippi. My great-grandmother and great-grandfather moved and have been in Chicago for the last 50-plus years."

The belts help tell his story, dedicating his success to his family. Robinson wanted something more than photos to stand out in his office.

"Whatever office I ever got, I was going to dedicate it to my family, not me," said Robinson. "How I got to the office is what is important. I wanted to find something that meant something to me. When people come into my office, the belts are great conversation starters. 'Why do you have this?' Most people think I'm a WWE star. I tell them I'm too old to get in the Supplex. Every person who comes into my office or does a site visit asks me to tell them about the belts. I could have photos, but you will always remember my story about the belts."

"They all represent people in my life. I have not gotten to where I am by myself without all the people around me. Greatness sitting in here – helping me get through the day, overcome challenges, or whatever obstacles I need to face. It also makes me feel close and loved. Even my kids have belts because they are my little champions."

"You never get to pick and choose your family, but when you have family that truly loves you and cares about your growth, you cherish family."

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