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Fort Drum soldier surprised by World War II veteran grandfather at homecoming from Afghanistan (VIDEO)

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FORT DRUM — A soldier and a sailor. A man and his “Pop.” One combat veteran to another.

Amid a rush of returning soldiers and family members at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Friday night, a surprise guest with whom Staff Sgt. Russell S. Robinsky shares a special bond was waiting for him: his World War II Navy veteran grandfather.

Edward J. Robinsky, a retired chief petty officer who served in the Pacific including Guadalcanal, was unable to welcome his grandson home from his first deployment in person. This time he and his wife, Delores J., made the trip from Newport News, Va.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world,” Mr. Robinsky said.

The bond between Sgt. Robinsky, a mechanic in the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his grandfather developed early as the family frequently traveled to hospitals so Sgt. Robinsky’s brother Mark could receive treatment for a rare form of leukemia.

“There was constant interaction,” said Edward J. “Butch” Robinsky Jr., Sgt. Robinsky’s father.

Mark Robinsky said he and his brother learned to swim from their grandfather, who also served as a leader in their Boy Scout troop. Sgt. Robinsky and his grandfather even developed a special hand signal, a flicking thumbs up signifying that everything was OK.

Mr. Robinsky said his son was inspired by his grandfather to join the military, even though his grandfather didn’t take the credit. The elder Robinsky said his grandson was a natural going back to his high school color guard.

“That boy was born an Army man,” he said. “He learned to take a rifle and spin it around like he owned it.”

Though at eight years in, Sgt. Robinsky’s career has a ways to go to match his grandfather’s 23 years in uniform, their service in combat overseas crossed generations, Mark Robinsky said.

“They have these moments where they look at each other and they just understand,” he said.

Sgt. Robinsky was one of about 200 soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who returned from eastern Afghanistan following a nine-month deployment. The brigade served in multiple support roles during its tour.

“Soldiers in formation, you should be damn proud of yourself,” said Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, 10th Mountain Division and post commander. “We’re proud of you.”

Breaking from the formation at the close of the ceremony, Sgt. Robinsky saw his wife, Lovely T., daughter, Rachel, 6; his father and mother, May B.

Then, to his surprise, he saw his grandmother and grandfather. Though he asked for them to come to the ceremony, their ability to attend was up in the air days before their trip north.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, they’re here,’” Sgt. Robinsky said.

Acknowledging the relief he felt to be home, Sgt. Robinsky found himself quickly caught up in the moment. Sharing a laugh with his grandfather, the pair exchanged thumb flicks.

“Was it a good surprise?” Mr. Robinsky asked his son.

“Heck yes, it was,” Sgt. Robinsky replied.

Video from the ceremony can be seen at http://wdt.me/reunion-homecoming.


Reunion at Fort Drum homecoming ceremony
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