Jun 28 2016

Fischer Honors Sergeant Joshua Robinson of Hastings, NE

Speech on Senate Floor is Sixth in Series Paying Tribute to Nebraska Heroes

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Senator Fischer’s floor speech on Marine Sergeant Joshua Robinson of Hastings, Nebraska.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This afternoon, U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) spoke on the Senate floor as part of her initiative to honor Nebraskans who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Throughout this year and beyond, Senator Fischer will deliver remarks as a memorial to each of these heroes.

Today, Senator Fischer honored the life of Sergeant Joshua Robinson. A Marine stationed in Afghanistan in 2011, Sergeant Robinson was shot and killed while on patrol in Helmand Province.

Below is the full transcript of today’s speech featuring Sergeant Joshua Robinson of Hastings, Nebraska:

Mr. President, I rise today to continue my tribute to Nebraska’s heroes and the current generation of men and women who have given their lives defending our freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Each of these Nebraskans has a powerful story.

Today, I will reflect upon the life of Marine Sergeant Joshua Robinson of Hastings, Nebraska.

Josh grew up on a farm near the small village of Oak, Nebraska.

As a boy, he thrived in the outdoors. Many would say he was born to be a Marine. 

Josh loved hunting, fishing, and preparing animals for 4-H competitions.

He first learned to shoot with a Red Ryder BB gun and became excellent at tracking wild animals.

Later, the Robinson family moved to Colorado, where Josh grew into an impressive athlete.

He discovered water sports. 

Water-skiing, wake-boarding, and knee-boarding became his passions.

By high school, this natural ability was generating success on the wrestling team, and he would later represent them three times at the state championships.

In 2000, Josh’s high school graduation coincided with his family’s return to Nebraska, where he enrolled at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha.

His athletic ability was on full display here, too. This time, riding bulls at the rodeo.

Over a year after graduating high school, Josh would find a new mission.

On September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on our homeland changed the world and instilled a deep sense of duty and patriotism for Josh. 

Like so many others in the days that followed, he answered the call to military service.

His mother, Misi remembers his passion during that time, saying, “Our freedom was put on the line. It takes young men like Josh to enlist and protect the USA.”

By 2003, Josh had enlisted in the Marine Corps.

That year, he also met the love of his life, Rhonda Zaruba of Bennington, Nebraska.

They connected immediately and were engaged shortly after Josh returned from basic training in 2004.

Rhonda recalls the advice Josh’s Marine friends gave him at the time: never buy a truck and never get married.

In 2004, he did both.

Josh and Rhonda were married in Omaha later that year.

They grew in love and had two sons: Kodiak, now 10, and Wyatt, now 9.

Together, Josh and Rhonda navigated their family through Josh’s two deployments to Iraq.

Like so many military families, they endured the pain of separation on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.

His service was their service.

No one was surprised by Josh’s success in the military.

His mother says Josh took the skills he learned as a young boy in Nebraska and placed them in the service of his Marine Corps brothers.

As a soldier, he taught courses in tracking and mountain survival.

As a Scout Sniper with the 1st Marine Division, he taught high-angle shooting and mountain survival at California’s Mountain Warfare Training Center.

Josh taught his Marines. He also nurtured his sons.

He showed Kodiak and Wyatt how to identify different animal tracks, and by a very young age, both boys were masters.

They still remember how to read raccoon and deer tracks.

Josh’s fellow Marines, who referred to Sergeant Robinson as “Robbie,” say he was fearless.

Through extraordinary survival skills, Josh kept his men alert and safe.

As fellow Marine Lance Corporal Gavin Bristol put it, “I never had any doubt there was a better man looking out for us…Whenever we felt fear or anxiety, we just had to remember that ‘Robbie’ was with us.”

Josh was an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division based out of Camp Pendleton, California.

After serving two tours in Iraq, he was deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in March of 2011

At this time, Helmand Province was the most dangerous region in Afghanistan and the last holdout of the Taliban.

A few months later, on June 11, a fire fight broke out lasting six hours.

During the attack, Josh rescued a wounded Marine while leading his combat team to safety.

He would later earn the Bronze Star for his actions that day. 

Two months later, on August 7, 2011, Josh was out on patrol and shot twice by enemy combatants. He died shortly after.

Sergeant Josh Robinson was flown to Nebraska and laid to rest on August 12, 2011 in Hastings.

Saint Cecilia’s Church was filled for the funeral service and hundreds of Patriot Guard Riders led his procession.

Fellow Marine Lance Corporal Bristol often thinks of Josh, saying, “Every day I was able to walk alongside Sergeant Robinson was a gift. He can never be replaced as a Marine, a leader, or a friend.”

To his wife, Rhonda, he was a “man’s man” and an “amazing Marine brother.”

He took new Marines under his wing and would bring them home to meet Rhonda and their children.

Josh’s sons, Kodiak and Wyatt, will remember motorcycle rides with their dad.

They will cherish memories of him teaching them how to ride the mechanical bull and snow-ski.

Nebraskans will remember Joshua Robinson for what he embodied and what it means to be one of “the few and the proud – a Marine.”

Sergeant Joshua Robinson earned the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star.

He lived his life the way he served his country: with distinction and great honor.

Sergeant Joshua Robinson is a hero, and I am honored to tell his story.

Thank you Mr. President. I yield.

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