“He didn’t want to go because of his wife and son, but since he joined the military his goal has been to be deployed. Ethan’s been doing it for a year and he’s the type of guy that would think it was wrong not to do the job he’s been trained for…and he’s always been like that.”
— Jim Robinson
On May 1, President Barack Obama marked the one-year anniversary of U.S. forces locating and killing Osama bin Laden by visiting Afghanistan.
n a televised address from Bagram Air Base, Obama discussed an agreement he signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to pull U.S. combat forces out of the country by 2014.
But, the president also pledged to continue to send an undisclosed number of soldiers to train Afghan forces and carry out limited counterterrorism operations until 2024.
For the next 12 years American servicemen and women will continue to travel to a far away country to engage the enemy, leaving behind friends, family, husbands, wives and children.
On April 28, three days before the president's address, Pfc. Ethan Tyrel Robinson, 21, of Craig, was deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.
He is serving as a rifleman in the U.S. Army’s Second Stryker Brigade of the Second Infantry Division.
Robinson was born and raised in Craig surrounded by a supportive family that includes his parents, Jim and Terri; grandparents Wade and Sharon Robinson, and George and Sharon Durham; sister Camie; and brother-in-law Brian Slaight.
He graduated from Moffat County High School, where he excelled as an athlete and is still known for his reputation as an enforcer on the ice.
“Ethan is dedicated to everything he does, whether it’s work, sports or anything,” said Sharon Durham. “He was a hockey player, and a good one, and he always protected his smaller teammates because he was quite a bit bigger.”
Dedicated, honest and hardworking are just some of the qualities people who know Robinson best use to describe him, but it's his loyalty and concern for those closest to him that earned Robinson the nickname “Ethan the Exterminator” from childhood teammates.
And it's Robinson’s character that keeps him in his mother’s thoughts.
“I’m sure that quality is going to carry through with what he is doing now because that is just the kind of guy he is,” Terri said. “I’m proud of him for doing what he thinks he needs to do. … (But) there’s not a day you don’t worry.”
When Robinson enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 2010, he was a single.
But, life has a knack for throwing unexpected surprises.
After basic training at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., Robinson was transferred to Fort Lewis in Washington State for pre-deployment training.
In early May 2011, he was set up on a blind date with a self-proclaimed “Air Force brat” by the name of Danielle "Dani" Turner.
They were married less than three months later, and Dani gave birth to their first child, Jace, on Jan. 27.
Joining the military was never a lifelong aspiration, Jim said, but even with a brand new family Robinson is dedicated to fulfilling his duty.
“He didn’t want to go because of his wife and son, but since he joined the military his goal has been to be deployed,” Jim said. “Ethan’s been doing it for a year and he’s the type of guy that would think it was wrong not to do the job he’s been trained for…and he’s always been like that.”
Although her husband’s deployment is hard, Dani said she has come to understand the old adage — distance makes the heart grow fonder.
“Our marriage is getting stronger as each day goes by,” she said. “Our love has capitalized on the pure fact that we will be together again soon.”
Rather than dwell on Robinson missing all of their son’s first milestones, Dani is already looking forward to her husband’s homecoming.
“I tell Jace every day how much his daddy loves and misses him,” Dani said. “My hopes are for Jace to be walking by the time Ethan gets back so that he can walk up to his daddy when he comes home.”
Robinson said he has no regrets on where his life has taken him and that having a brand new family has not only intensified his sense of duty, but also instilled a newfound respect for responsibility, particularly as a husband and a father.
“I used to go through life full-throttle, but now with my wife and son I have slowed down and switched my focus from the next adrenaline rush to growing old with my wife, Dani, and watching my son grow up to play ball or hockey or whatever he decides to do,” Robinson said in an email.
“Everything happens for a reason and I know life has taken me to where I was meant to be.
“I’m no hero, but I will do my best to defend my country’s freedom. My wife, family and friends support me more than I could have ever asked for.
"Thank you for everything you guys do for me.”
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