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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Howard Robinson

Howard Robinson's Photos

Howard during his service.

Howard during his early days of service

Howard with a portrait he drew of his father,

Major C. Robinson.

Given to his dad on his 90th birthday.

Howard Robinson with his siblings (March 1968).

(L to R): Barbara, Polly, Karen, Judy, Janice holding Alma, Darrell, Douglas, and Howard.

Howard Robinson and his family. 

Back Row (L to R): Major C. Robinson, Howard, Douglas, and Darrell.

Middle Row (L to R): Alma, Karen, Polly, and Barbara.

Front Row (L to R): Judy and Janice

Howard and his brothers (1968).

(L to R): Darrell, Douglas, and Howard

Major C. Robinson, Howard's father, holding his firstborn daughter, Janice, with his three sons. 

Sons (L to R): Darrell, Douglas, and Howard

Howard and his brothers (April 1955). 

(L to R): Darrell, Douglas, and Howard

Howard Robinson's Relatives Photos

A painting featuring Howard's father, Major C. Robinson (right), and Howard's uncle, Clifford Robinson (left).

A photo of Howard's uncle, Claude Robinson. 

Major C. Robinson, Howard's father, and his pal sitting outside a pup tent. 


Major C. Robinson, Howard's father, reading the newspaper at his home

(Wilkes County). 


Howard's parents, Major C. Robinson and Rachel Souther, pose for a photo together, 


Howard Robinson's Story (Submitted by Sebastian Dionicio)

Howard Robinson is a U.S. Army Veteran. From 1980-2003, he served in the North Carolina Army National Guard, stationed primarily at the North Wilkesboro National Guard Armory, and served his country as a combat engineer, carpenter, and mason. Traveling the world to complete humanitarian work, Robinson assisted in building schools, medical centers, and roads for underprivileged communities in Ecuador, the Marshall Islands, and Alaska throughout his 23 years of military service. He received several promotions over the years, completing his service as a staff sergeant, and he also received honors for inventions he designed while working on the border fence in California and artwork featured in the Tarheel Guardsman, a magazine honoring the Guardsmen of North Carolina.

Born in Harmony, North Carolina, to Major C. Robinson and Rachel Souther, Robinson and his family moved to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, in 1956, where he attended C.C. Wright Elementary School, Wilkesboro Elementary School, and graduated from Wilkes Central High School. His mother, Rachel Souther, a stay-at-home mom, looked after Robinson, his siblings (Douglas, Darrell, Janice, Judy, Karen, Barbara, Polly, and Alma), and their home, while his father, Major C. Robinson, a WWII veteran, worked as a mail carrier for the North Wilkesboro Post Office to provide for his family.

In his early to mid-twenties, Robinson worked at American Drew Furniture Co., Troutman Shirt Co., Foster-Sturdivant Co., and Coco-Cola Bottling Co. He also attended Wilkes Community College, where he studied drafting, before enlisting in the North Carolina Army National Guard in 1980 following his father's and uncle's, Clifford and Claude Robinson's, military service.

During his early days of service, Robinson set out for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in 1980 to complete basic training. Driven to Hickory, North Carolina, by his wife, Bernice Robinson, he took a flight to St. Louis, Missouri. Once there, Robinson took a bus to Fort Leanord Wood, where he would complete basic training.  

When recalling those training days, Robinson discussed the importance of keeping a positive outlook, even when challenges emerge. "It's a mindset thing, really," he shared. "You learn how to fight the military're pushed to the limit, both physically and mentally, so you tend to remember it more," he added. Robinson also highlighted how "basic training was very hot" and that "they had to stop training because there was a heatwave going on at the time."

Following basic training, Robinson returned to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, that same year, where he continued his service at the North Wilkesboro National Guard Armory and received additional training. While there, he utilized his skills in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and electrical engineering. He also worked at Lowes Home Improvement and became a Sunday school teacher at Little Stone Mountain Baptist Church in Traphill, North Carolina, and Haymeadow Baptist Church in Hayes, North Carolina.

Over the years, Howard embarked on several journeys across the globe where he would complete humanitarian work, utilizing his engineering skills, by building schools, roads, and hospitals for underprivileged communities. His first humanitarian trips consisted of traveling to Ecuador, where he helped to build a school and medical center for the locals. He also traveled to the Marshal Islands, where Robinson assisted in building another school and medical center for the locals, and, during his final trip, traveled to Alaska, where he helped build a major highway for the native community so they could have a means of travel.

Amidst his travels, Robinson also received additional leadership training in Asheville, North Carolina, and at a military training center near Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota. Moreover, he worked on the border fence in California following his first trip to Ecuador, where he invented a tool that made it easier to set poles on the ground to create the border fence and received recognition.

Looking back, Robinson recalled how his service impacted his life, stating that he "learned how to be self-sufficient" and "become a more clean-cut individual." He also learned "how to work with and get along with people" and "how to manage [his] finances.” Furthermore, he cited "being away from [his] family," adapting to travel, occasional jet lag, and foreign cultures as the most challenging parts of his service.

Robinson's service officially ended in March 2003 while stationed at the North Wilkesboro National Guard Armory. Following 23 years of military service, Robinson continued working as a Sunday school teacher and working at Lowes Home Improvement, where he worked as an "order puller" and in the service department. Keeping in touch with his comrades, Robinson did his best to "visit them every once in a while," and attend reunions, where he and his friends reflected on memories and enjoyed being in good company. Today, Robinson continues to take an interest in matters about the military, even after the completion of his service.

Sharing his final thoughts about his military experience, Robinson recalled how his service impacted his life, stating, "I’m just a common person and this is just my story... maybe I could have done more, but what I would like people to remember is this is my story and the life I lived.” “I fought for my country, and maybe [others] can model themselves after someone like me and consider going into the military," he concluded.