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A surprise homecoming


                                                                                                                              Photo by Christy Porter
The Robbins’ family shared a joyous and tearful reunion on Friday. From left: Karlie Sue, Douglas, Johnny Ray, Kemberlynn, Laura and Jedidiah Kole.
By Christy Porter
Managing Editor

Much to the delight and surprise of his two daughters, Karlie Sue, first grade, and Kemberlynn, fourth grade, their father, Specialist Army Reservist Douglas Robbins came to pick them up from school Friday, Feb. 14. Robbins returned home after serving in Afghanistan, TF Terrapin, BAF.
Three classes each of the first and fourth grades were told they were having a special Valentine’s Day assembly at the FEMA gym on Friday. Indeed it was special! Karlie Sue and Kemberlynn had no idea their dad had returned home. Brad Cooper, principal, the teachers and the Robbins family conspired to give the girls a wonderful Valentine. While they were being presented with a candy bouquet, Dad was coming through the door behind them with the flower bouquets.
Laura, the girls’ mother and wife of Douglas, had gone to Springfield with her grandmother, Kathy Moncrief and sons, Jedidiah Kole, 5 and Johnny Ray, 10 months, to pick Douglas up early Friday morning. Everyone was eagerly anticipating his arrival home; only the girls did not know it would be this day. There was a very joyous and tearful reunion when they realized their dad was behind the flowers. The whole family joined in a group hug, with the girls not prepared to let go of their father. The school assembly joined in the “Welcome Home.”
                                                             Photo by Christy Porter
The Robbins’ family from left: Karlie Sue, Douglas, Kemberlynn, 
Johnny Ray, Laura and Jedidiah Kole.
Douglas, a heavy equipment mechanic working on bulldozers and the like, was called to duty in Afghanistan at the end of April 2019, only a few weeks after his youngest son, Johnny Ray, was born. The majority of his time was spent on a northern base, Kunduz with local Afghans attached to the camp as translators for the U.S. military advisors. He also spent 90 days in a smaller camp where, in addition to U.S. forces, there were also German and Iranian forces in training. He has been gone for a long 293 days. Douglas is an Active Army Reservist and Civil Servant at nearby Ft. Leonard Wood. His mechanics specialty is utilized in his civil servant career as well.
The Army Reserves are the same as active duty, except you report for duty once a month for 2 -3 days, then during the summer you do 14 – 30 days training. This duty keeps you qualified and ready to deploy. It is Mission Critical as to what reserve unit is pulled for duty and, as well, their deployment time. While active duty military is deployed overseas, a reserve unit may be called in to replace them until their return to the states or a reserve unit may also be called in overseas to cover the lapse of active duty’s availability overseas.
This was Robbins’ first deployment overseas, consisting of a small, handpicked detachment from his reserve unit. “All my guys made it home safely,” says Robbins. And while he can be called back for active duty, there is usually a window of time before the possibility of another deployment occurs. When deployed, the reservist is issued full military uniform and supplies to complete the job.
Robbins recalls getting Facebook Messenger for the first time the night before he left; this was the main way he stayed in touch with family and friends during his deployment. A special chip obtained by a translator allowed him to use messenger on his phone while overseas. There were also care boxes and mail. The mail filters or segregates down from the larger bases, and while at the small base camp, Robbins said he only received his Licking News twice in 90 days, the rest were there at the main camp when he returned. Kemberlynn’s fourth grade classes sent packages around Thanksgiving. “Notes from home were the best,” says Robbins, “but everything received was greatly appreciated.”
“There were several scary moments,” said Robbins. “I would go again if called up, but I would not volunteer to go.”
When asked what he’s missed after his family and friends, Robbins replied, “I’ve missed hunting, fishing, ‘shroom and shed (deer horns) hunting. I’m looking forward to getting back to that. Getting to spend more time with my family and getting to know my youngest son.”

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