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Sgt. Tim Robinson said he doesn't begrudge the Army for denying his request to stay at his dying mother's bedside instead of returning to Iraq.
Daily photo by Paul Huggins
Sgt. Tim Robinson said he doesn't begrudge the Army for denying his request to stay at his dying mother's bedside instead of returning to Iraq.

Ordered back
to Iraq

Soldier leaves dying
mother to return to war

By Paul Huggins 340-2395

As she watched her son leave for Iraq, Katie Mae Jones could only say goodbye with tears.

Though the 62-year-old tried, she couldn't speak. Were it not for life-support machines at Decatur General Hospital, she wouldn't be able to breathe.

Based on what doctors told them, her family knows her battle with kidney and heart failure is about to end.

"Believe me, Mom, if it was up to me, I'd stay here, Mom," Sgt. Tim Robinson told her shortly before leaving to catch a flight back to Iraq.

The 19-year Army veteran with five months left on his enlistment tried unsuccessfully to get an extension on his two-week leave.

He faxed word back to his unit that his mother was dying, and he asked for another week. His request included a note from his mother's doctor explaining her condition, he said, but his commanding officer denied the extension.

Robinson then went to Redstone Arsenal earlier Tuesday to get help from the Judge Advocate General Corps but was told he had to go through American Red Cross first. He then realized there wasn't time to go through the proper channels. Rather than risk damaging his record and getting a dishonorable discharge so close to his retirement, he decided to return to his unit.

"It's either that or get arrested," Robinson said. "And I don't want that. I don't want to put any more stress on Mom."

Robinson, 39, serves with the military police at Camp Bucca, a prison near the borders of Iraq, Iran and Kuwait. It has 15,000 prisoners, he said, adding he knows his comrades need his help.

"It's a dangerous place," he said.

He showed no anger at his predicament and said he's not mad at the Army. It's just part of the sacrifice soldiers are willing to make when they sign up, Robinson said.

"I just want people to know what we're going through," he said.

Jones has struggled with diabetes and fluid on her heart and became seriously ill about two weeks ago, prompting Robinson to come home on emergency leave. At the time, she was in a nursing home, and then she moved to Decatur General for dialysis and other treatment. Her health has steadily worsened, and doctors told the family that without the life support machines she would die.

Robinson spent his time with her Tuesday afternoon. His father, Al Robinson, and his new bride, Elizabeth Robinson, were alongside. He repeatedly spoke words of encouragement to her, and she appeared to try to answer him, even mustering tears.

Before leaving, he thanked the intensive care unit staff for giving him "peace of mind" of knowing his mother will be well cared for after he leaves.

"It's going to be all right," he said, sniffling and stroking her head and face. "You'll be out of here before you know it.

"I'll be back before you know it," he said. "We're going to celebrate together. I love you Mom. You know I do."

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