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FRIDAY, APRIL 20, 2007
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Soldier granted leave to stay with dying mother

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Army officials granted Sgt. Tim Robinson's emergency leave request Thursday and are trying to re-assign him so he doesn't have to return to Iraq at all, the soldier said.

"I just give thanks to everyone who showed a little sympathy to me and my mother," he said Thursday, appearing more relaxed than Tuesday, when he thought he was leaving his dying mother's bedside to return to Iraq.

Robinson, 39, was serving with a military police unit at a prison camp in Iraq when his mother, Katie Mae Jones, first went to the hospital with kidney and heart problems. His brother arranged for a two-week emergency leave through the American Red Cross. While he was home, his mother's health worsened, and she is now on life support at Decatur General Hospital.

Robinson received a four-day extension from his unit, and then asked for another two weeks Tuesday, but his commanding officer in Iraq denied the request.

Story drew response

Wednesday's story in The Daily drew responses from readers who wanted to help him stay. This included U.S. Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, who asked his office to work with the Red Cross to get Robinson an extension.

Robinson said Cramer called him Thursday to assure him he would get more time to spend with his mother.

Cramer said his office researched how it could appeal Robinson's case should his command unit deny the Red Cross' request.

"We've got to have a system that's flexible with veterans like this, with our soldiers like this," he said. "I was just pleased the system was responsive."

Robinson joined the Army in 1987 and served with missile batteries in Germany and Saudi Arabia until 1995. He rejoined the Army in 1997 through the National Guard's 203rd Military Police Battalion in Athens.

Robinson, whose off-duty job is machine operator at Dutch Quality House, said he wasn't upset with the Army when it denied his request for more time and he understood his unit needed him because the prison camp is a dangerous place.

Soldiers' sacrifices

He said he shared his story because he wanted people to know the type of family sacrifices soldiers make, and he asked that his supporters continue to pray for his comrades still in Iraq.

Although doctors have told him the life-support systems are only providing his mother several more days of life, Robinson said he has faith she will regain her health.

"I talk to her and give her encouraging words," he said. "She's alert and responds when I talk to her. Her eyes follow the voices, and she squeezes my hand. Every day I have with her is a blessed day. I cherish each moment I have with her."

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