Lessons from the First Sergeant (Features) (Marines Uncovered)
Article By Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo
1st Sgt. Frank O. Robinson received a Purple Heart Medal for wounds sustained in Afghanistan on Aug. 10, 2014 and received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device for his actions in Afghanistan. Robinson was engaged by small arms fire and rocket propelled grenades that sent rounds and shrapnel into the side of his vehicle. After repositioning his vehicle to gain positive identification of the targets, he engaged the enemy with his vehicle and the vehicle next to him. His actions lead to a successful engagement of the enemy while in Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/Released)
1st Sgt. Frank O. Robinson, Company A 1st sergeant, Headquarters Battalion, took the responsibility of A Co., January, 2015. He has served nearly 20 years in the Marine Corps and hopes to continue to be a role model for all Marines. 1st Sgt. Robinson was awarded a Purple Heart and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a combat distinguishing device, Jan. 22, 2015. Robinson received the awards for his actions during combat in Afghanistan.
These are the lessons from the first sergeant; how he grew up, his love for the Marine Corps, and what he hopes to accomplish in his time left in the Corps.
(As told to combat correspondent Lance Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo)
I was next to the youngest.
There’s a 17 year gap between my oldest brother and me. By the time I got old enough to realize, ‘these are my brothers and sisters’ it was really just me, my younger brother and my sister. So we were the only three left in the house at that point.
There are seven of us total in my family, four boys, three girls. I have three boys and two girls.
One thing I can say is my brothers, and my dad more than anybody, had a huge influence on me and my development from being a boy to a man. I could say that it was a great childhood. I grew up in a disciplined household. Discipline was the focal point and my dad made sure of that.
It wasn’t a shock factor for me, coming into the Marine Corps.
One huge thing that I learned growing up was to be held accountable for your actions and to make sure you think through situations before you make decisions. I think it definitely helped me throughout my career.
In my household, my dad gave us two options, ‘college or the military.’
It wasn’t going to be, ‘you work and then stay at the house,’ it was one or the other. I knew I wasn’t ready for college at 18 years old, so I decided just to look at all the branches of the military. The Marine Corps was the first stop I made. I was so thoroughly impressed with the mindset of Marines that I didn’t have to go any further.
I joined the Marine Corps in 1995. My first four years, I couldn’t wait to get out, and four years went by really quick, and I realized that one, I didn’t have a degree and two, I didn’t have any money saved up, so I re-enlisted. After I went to the drill field and became a drill instructor, I knew I was staying for the long haul.
Being on the drill field takes you all the way back to what it means to be a Marine, and what it takes to make a Marine.
When you’re going through boot camp as a recruit you don’t get to see that but when you’re a drill instructor you get to see the transformation first-hand. It completely changed the way I look at the Marine Corps as a whole.
I love going to the gym, and spending time with my family, no matter what it is. It could just be watching movies or out in the yard playing.
I love studying and watching military tactics. I love the military channel and I will stay up until two o’ clock in the morning, watching something and trying to understand military tactics.
Being a Marine means the world to me.
It means the same thing to me as the [air] in my lungs. I love the camaraderie, the brotherhood and the long, rich, illustrious history that surrounds the Corps. I couldn’t picture or see myself doing anything else.
I’ve been to a lot of units. I’ve been with base, I’ve been with the air wing, I’ve been with infantry and I’ve been in [the Marine Logistics Group]. I’ve seen a lot, so I think that bringing experience from all over the MAGTF will definitely assist with the mission here at Headquarters Battalion.
One thing I would want my Marines to know about me is that I care for each and every last one of them.
I want to see them successful at all costs. I don’t want to see any of them fail and even if I’m disciplining them, I still want them to know that I care about them.
I think one of the things that had the biggest impact on me was graduating my first platoon as a drill instructor and the sense of accomplishment I had behind that. That was probably one of the proudest days; it’s almost like a dad watching one of his kids graduate high school or something of that nature.
The second one was my time with [1st battalion, 7th Marine Regiment], Weapons Company. To go into Afghanistan with all of the uncertainty, against a determined enemy and be able to bring all 119 Marines back. That was huge for me because when you go into combat situations you don’t know how it’s going to turn out.
One thing I can say about my wife is she is the most honest person to me when it comes to being a Marine.
She doesn’t hold anything back and she definitely keeps me grounded and on my toes. I go to her for advice in general and I think we have a great relationship in the aspect of communication.
I try to make sure that the Marine Corps and my family life are completely separate because it already affects them: the deployments, the long hours, things like that. My seven-year-old talks about it all the time, she actually says she wants to be a Marine.
I really got into physical fitness, five or six years ago. It extends far beyond being a Marine to me because one day you have to hang this uniform up and I still want to be healthy.
As a young Marine, I wanted to be a drill instructor, but I was kind of on the fence about staying in. I knew if I did, I wanted to be a drill instructor. My drill instructors inspired me as a recruit and you never forget those individuals who were a vital part in that transformation.
I want to be able to assist, mold, mentor, and teach, Marines
It does nothing for me to have 20 years in the Marine Corps and keep all of that information and knowledge with me when I leave. So I think the biggest piece is to help others reach their goals and try to be an inspiration to all Marines.
Frank O. Robinson, Company A First Sergeant, headquarters battalion, native of Baltimore, Md., received a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California Jan. 22, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photos by Lance Cpl. Thomas Mudd/Released)