Written by Roger H. Still, Illinois Assistant Transportation Manager
Like a lot of young people Robby’s age during the early 2000s, he was profoundly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Robby decided to join the Army in January 2003 and went through Basic Training where he learned how to be a soldier. He then progressed to Advanced Individual Training where he learned the finer skills of being a Combat Engineer at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
Robby described the job in the modern military as “providing mobility, counter mobility, and survivability.”
Robby’s Military Experience
“Soldiers with this specialty have many different experiences,” said Robby. “For me it meant conducting route clearance. Route clearance is clearing a roadway or path of suspected explosives or hazards (commonly known as IEDs) for friendly troops or civilians so that they can maneuver freely. We were provided with equipment and vehicles to detect these hazards, but the best tool we had was our eyes. If we weren’t on foot, we traveled in Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) type vehicles with V-shaped armored hulls to protect us from explosions.”
After graduation, Robby was assigned to six different locations over the next 14 years. Immediately following his basic training, he was transferred to Charlie Company, 70th Engineering Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Fort Riley, Kansas. In 2006, he was transferred to 911th Engineering Company, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, which also encompassed Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia; and the Military District of Washington. In 2008, he was transferred to 576th Engineering Company, 4th Engineering Battalion, 555th Engineering Brigade Fort Carson, Colorado. In 2010, he was transferred to Echo Company, 31st Engineering Battalion, 1st Engineering Brigade Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. In 2012, he was transferred to 630th Clearance Company, 7th Engineering Battalion, 10th Mountain Division Fort Drum, New York. Then, in 2015, he was back to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to the Counter Explosives Hazards Center, 1st Engineering Brigade.
Robby deployed with each of his assigned units and conducted operations in numerous Middle Eastern locations. The deployment of 2009 was especially memorable, as his unit did an in-theater transfer—meaning all unit personnel and equipment transferred from one area in the combat zone to another within the same theater of operations. The mere act of this transfer adds countless logistical challenges as it stretches assets even though they are already at maximum capacity. But the need outweighed the challenges due to the increased threat and demand for troops at the different location at that time.
Robby describes the time he served as a drill sergeant from 2010 to 2012 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as his most memorable time in the service.
My most memorable time on the trail was as drill sergeant. At the time, it seemed like the worst days of my life. Between balancing a maximum of 4 hours of sleep a night, losing your voice weekly, and having loaded weapons pointed in your general direction by fellow soldiers who have never held a firearm in their life, it was a wild ride. In hindsight, it taught me 90 percent of what I know as an adult and was the best time of my life.”
When asked how Dot relates to his military time, Robby replied, “The Core Values from the Army are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. In my eyes, all of these have a relation to how Dot operates every single day. Also, like the military, Dot employees care for one another. I feel this builds camaraderie and makes it possible for us to work together as a team, and in result, our company to be successful.”
Robby explained how being put in adverse environments taught him resiliency and how that prepared him for his career at Dot. He went on to say that when he’s faced with tough decisions or thinks he’s having a rough day, he remembers how easy it is to bounce back from them and appreciate the little things that most often are taken for granted. Robby declared that it was the military that instilled a high sense of discipline in him, and credits them for shaping and developing him into the person he is today.
Robby lives in Buena Vista, Tennessee, with his wife, Danielle, and their two sons, Vincent (13) and Gavin age (8). He works out of our Dyersburg, Tennessee, DC as a driver trainer.