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thedrifter
10-12-06, 09:31 AM
Robinsons find strength in faith and community
Thursday, October 12, 2006
BY KEVIN SHEA

Andrew Robinson committed himself to the Marine Corps before graduating from Northern Burlington County Regional High School in the spring of 2001, shipping off to basic training not long after getting his diploma.

On the day after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, while still in boot camp, Robinson wrote to his mother Carole and described how his commitment to serving his country had not been shaken and that he placed his trust "in the Marines to prepare him and God to protect him."

Carole Robinson's faith tells her that God was with her son June 20 this year, in the Al Anbar province in Iraq, when a roadside bomb blew up his vehicle, paralyzing the now 24-year-old sergeant on his second tour in Iraq. Three Marine comrades died in the blast.

That same day, Carole Robinson said, someone dropped off a prayer book for her husband Bill Robinson, a union pipefitter who works at the New Jersey State Police technology center on Route 130 in Hamilton, and it featured Psalm 138 verse 7, which reads: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you will revive me. You will stretch forth your hand against the wrath of my enemies. Your right hand will save me."

"That has truly been what we've gone by (these past few months)," Carole Robinson said about the passage yesterday from her North Hanover home.

Among Robinson's family, which includes three sisters, "There's been no despair about (Andrew's) condition. He's going to rally. He's got a very positive attitude."

Carole Robinson said the family has been buoyed by not only their faith, but the support of an array of people who have helped them since June, ranging from 6-year-old Joshua Breese, of Hopewell Township, who sold $80 worth of lemonade for the Andrew Robinson Trust Fund recently, to President Bush, who visited and prayed at Robinson's bedside at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center outside Washington in August.

The Robinsons will be the guests of honor tonight at Savoy's Restaurant & Boiler Bar on Route 130 in Hamilton for another fundraiser for Andrew Robinson. The Trenton Thunder and Trenton Titans mascots are among the attractions.

The C.B. Lamb Elementary School in North Hanover, where Andrew Robinson studied, has planned a walkathon Oct. 20 and the New Egypt Elks plan a fundraiser Nov. 18.

Listing all the agencies and groups that have pitched in to help the family, Carole Robinson said: "There's just been so many people supportive in so many ways." She said that 7-year-old twins from Bordentown, Rebecca and Matthew St. Jean, held their own fundraiser for Andrew over the Labor Day weekend and raised $280.

"It's been incredible, overwhelming support," Robinson said of the community rallying to the family's side.

The family has been through a lot, Carole Robinson said, with some members "up all night crying in bed." There has been a lot of traveling as she, her husband and Andrew's three sisters try to maintain a presence with his new wife Sara at his bedside in a Tampa, Fla., veterans hospital.

The presidential visit at Bethesda before Andrew Robinson was transferred to Florida was especially appreciated, Carole Robinson said. Bush had been at the hospital for his annual checkup.

"It was very emotional and he's a very nice man," Carole Robinson said. The president prayed with the family and it had a profound impact on her son, who wrote in his first e-mail from Florida: "Please keep the prayers coming, because when that many people are praying for you, you can feel it like arms around you. Another man sympathized with this feeling as he prayed with my family and me. And that was the president of the United States."

Andrew Robinson has been sending e-mails to family members by using software for people who are paralyzed.

Although paralyzed, Robinson's injuries are progressing. While it's likely he will never walk again, Robinson and his family remain upbeat about the future. The blast shattered three vertebrae, but did not sever his spine, and since his lungs recovered, Robinson has been undergoing more physical therapy in Florida. He recently got back some finger movement, his mother said.

Carole Robinson said her son is a natural fighter and had wanted to be a Marine for years.

Initially assigned to an administrative post in an aviation wing, Robinson served in that capacity in Iraq in 2004. But he wanted to do more, his mother said.

When he got back to the States, he sought out counterintelligence school and was trained as an interrogator. He shipped back to Iraq in January of this year with a new unit, a six-man intelligence team with the 1st Marines that deployed nearly daily to investigate the insurgency in an area that is still an active combat zone.

Robinson's team was attacked by the very insurgency cell they were trying to track down, his supervisor, Master Sgt. Gregory Jones wrote to the Robinson family. "He knew there was a high threat and that he was going into certain danger. But again ... Andy saddled up anyway! And for that, I would like to recognize him as a true hero," Jones wrote.

Ellie