Land mine kills Orlando military contractor in IRAQ
Carey Robinson was born to save others from harm, family members said. As a boy, he shielded his little sister from bullies. As a man, he served in combat twice - in Somalia as a soldier, and Iraq as a National Guard member.
Robinson, of Orlando, died Monday north of Tikrit while working as a military contractor guarding colleagues as they searched for munitions that could be used by Iraqi insurgents to make explosives, said Andrea Takash, a spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers. He was 39.
His death came five days before he was scheduled to return home, sister Kim Robinson said.
Robinson loved his job with EOD Technology of Lenoir City, Tenn., and did well, said his brother, Andre Vidrine.
"Just this past couple of months, he saved a couple of lives," said Vidrine, 31.
Robinson's death brings the number of contractors killed while working for the Coalition Munitions Clearance program since September 2003 to 31, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Overall, about 350 private contractors have died since the Iraq war began, according to icasualties.org, a Web site that collects press accounts.
Robinson was born in New Orleans, the child of a Navy SEAL and a self-described "Navy brat." He grew up roaming his family's farm outside of Lafayette, La.
The children raced horses there and paddled canoes. Robinson rescued everything from wild animals to stray cats. In high school, he grew to be 6 feet tall and muscular, with striking blue eyes. He took up football and became so good they retired his number after his final season, his mother, Cynthia Rawles, said.
"From 5½ pounds, he grew into this big, gorgeous being," said Rawles as she pored through old photographs and letters in the living room of the Conway home she shared with her son.
"He was just a great, great person," Rawles said, crying. "I know everybody says that about their son. But he really, really was."
Robinson moved to Orlando after high school graduation in the mid-1980s and became an Orange County corrections officer. Later, he joined the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, N.Y., and saw combat in Somalia during the early 1990s.
Robinson returned home, studied criminal justice at the University of Central Florida and made the dean's list, Rawles said. He nearly finished, but dyslexia made Spanish classes tough.
He continued working in security jobs until the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, when he decided to join the Florida National Guard. When he learned the Florida Guard wasn't going to Iraq as soon as he hoped, he switched to the Louisiana National Guard to get there faster, and served with them in 2004 and 2005.
When his tour in Iraq ended, he took a three-week break in Orlando before returning to Iraq as a military contractor in January. His family understood.
"He was a patriot," Vidrine said.
Plus, Robinson hoped the higher contractor pay would help him build a future. Similar jobs pay between $12,000 and $17,000 a month, according to security-company Web sites.
"He wanted to make enough money to buy a house and settle down and have a family," Rawles said.
News of Robinson's death came as his family was planning to celebrate his return. He was expected to leave the Middle East on Saturday.
"I am envisioning good Chinese food, and anything that ends with 'food,' " Robinson recently wrote from Iraq.
The call came about 3 a.m. Sunday, Orlando time.
Robinson was driving in an armored vehicle when it hit a land mine designed to destroy tanks, company representatives told family members.
It was a direct hit, and Robinson died instantly.
Von: The Orlando Sentinel, Aug 31 2006. The Bradenton Herald, by Willoughby Mariano