Ruby Robinson grew up a child of the military, knowing the tough challenge her father faces balancing family life with his responsibilities in the Army Reserve.  She was set to graduate from Columbia University and understood her dad, Captain Keith Robinson, wouldn’t be home in time to celebrate with the family.  So last week, when she walked across the stage to receive her diploma, she was shocked to see her dad waiting for her with roses and a big hug. 

“I was completely shocked, I didn’t expect him to be there at all,” said Robinson. “Basically, when you’re going across the stage, you don’t want to trip or anything so when I saw him, I just was in shock. I didn’t know what was going on at first so it was definitely a great surprise.”

Columbia University staffers, graduates and their families gave the two a standing ovation as they embraced on stage.  “I didn’t want to let her go,” Captain Robinson said.  He had flown nearly non-stop for 14 hours from Afghanistan to New York City.

Robinson is serving the fifth deployment of his military career and only has two weeks in the U.S. before he has to fly back to Afghanistan.  He said he plans to help Ruby prepare for her post-graduate life working for Amazon in California.  Ruby wants to take her dad out shopping and to the movies.  He knows the next two weeks will fly by fast and is grateful for the time off.  

“I’m a reservist so you have your civilian life and then you have to turn around and put on your full-time active duty hat and go away,” her father said.  “She was five years old when I went away the first time, so you’re stepping in and out of their lives for significant periods of time.”

Robinson credits his wife for keeping the family united.  “She becomes the mother and father and everything while I’m away so all service members know that we have to take our hats off to our significant others that we leave behind,” he said.


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