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THURSDAY, APRIL 19, 2007
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Soldier may get to stay with dying mother
American Red Cross files request for two-week extension to emergency leave from Iraq

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Sgt. Tim Robinson may get the extra time to spend with his dying mother instead of having to return to Iraq.

The American Red Cross filed a request for a two-week extension for the soldier's emergency leave Wednesday afternoon. It usually takes less than a day to learn whether it's been approved.

Robinson, 39, who attempted to return to Iraq on Tuesday but couldn't get a flight out of Huntsville International Airport, delayed his departure another day in anticipation of getting the extension, said his father, Al Robinson.

Expecting confirmation

His son expected to hear confirmation Thursday morning that he can stay at home another two weeks, he said.

The Daily reported Wednesday that Tim Robinson's commanding officer in Iraq denied his personal request for an extension to be with his mother, Katie Mae Jones, who is on life support systems at Decatur General Hospital. She is battling kidney failure and heart problems.

Robinson serves with the military police at Camp Bucca, a large prison in Iraq. He joined the Army in the late 1980s and has five months left until retirement.

Story strikes chord

His story struck a heartfelt chord with readers, some of whom called The Daily to see how they could help. Al Robinson said he called U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer's office in Decatur on Wednesday morning to solicit help and learned some local citizens had already called to ask for the congressman's help.

Mike Anders was one of them, and he said he even called the White House to share the story. He said he had a similar scenario in 1973 after he entered the Air Force.

His wife's mother was seriously ill, and the Air Force assigned him to a base in Mississippi so they could be close to her.

"I feel for the man," he said. "I don't know him, but he doesn't deserve this. It's just not right."

Extension filed Wednesday

Sheila Brazelton, Red Cross assistant director in charge of Armed Forces emergencies, said she filed the extension request before 3 p.m. Wednesday and that soldiers typically get responses in less than a day.

The request first goes to Fort Sill, Okla., which forwards it to the soldier's command unit. The commanding officer must still approve, she said, and the commander may approve this request because it has gone through the proper channels.

Brazelton handled Robinson's case from the beginning on March 12, when Robinson's brother requested an emergency leave on behalf of his brother.

The Army asks that the Red Cross supply the sick family member's diagnosis, prognosis, condition, life expectancy and doctor's recommendation. The Army approved Robinson's initial request even without the recommendation of Jones' doctor, who was out of town at the time, Brazelton said.

Robinson was able to get a four-day extension on his own, after his mother worsened, Brazelton said, but evidently was unable to get a second extension.

Robinson said Tuesday that he was following procedure to apply for an extension through his unit first before going to outside sources.

He was unavailable Wednesday afternoon, but his father thanked those who offered support to keep him home.

"To me, he was treated (by the community) like a soldier should be," he said.

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