Local soldier picks up his life after Iraq


Jeanette Brown, Special to the KP News

Many residents on the Key Peninsula know Ed Robison as a local business owner and volunteer for the Key Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District. However, between the dates of Feb. 17 and Aug. 15 of 2007 Robison, as a Navy Reservist, was called to active duty and energetically assumed his role as U.S. Navy Cmdr. Edward C. Robison.

Ed Robison in his uniform last year. Photo courtesy Ed Robison

He spent six months in the Western Al Anbar Province of Iraq as the reconstruction officer for the area; and upon his return, Robison was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Achievement by U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jonathan L. Hughes in an awards ceremony at the Navy Operational Support Center in Alameda, Calif., on March 18,, 2008.

Robison did not know he was getting the Bronze Star until it was awarded. He said, “I was expecting a Navy Marine Corps commendation or maybe a Defense Meritorious Service Medal. That is what most of the guys that have done similar jobs there have received.

“The Bronze Star was a complete surprise for me… It verified to me that the extra work, effort and danger I exposed myself to by magnifying my role in the reconstruction efforts to make them more efficient and effective were recognized and appreciated. It confirmed to me that the Marine leadership understands the importance of empowering the local Iraqis to become responsible for their well-being rather than trying to force a ‘fete accompli’ upon them. This change in attitude and methods are resulting in the improvements in Iraq since the Iraqi people are now part of the solution rather than considered the problem.

The citation that accompanied the medal stated in part, “Commander Robison displayed exemplary managerial skill, and exceptional professional engineering and project management expertise…Commander Robison’s total  effectiveness, forceful leadership, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Services.” It was signed by the U.S. Marine Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Samuel T. Helland.

The award that would eventually become the Bronze Star Medal was conceived by Col. Russell P. “Red” Reeder in 1943 and is a U.S. Armed Forces individual military decoration that may be awarded for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service.  Robison, who is native to Washington state, graduated from Liberty High School in Issaquah and attended the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to become a civil engineer.  While still in college, he joined the Navy through their collegiate program and upon the completion of his degree, he attended Officers Candidate School in New Port, RI.

Robison was on active duty in the Navy for six years; in 1992 he joined the Navy Reserves. He and his wife, Lorilie, have two boys and two girls who range between the ages 13 and 21.  More than three years ago, the Robisons bought some acreage in Wauna and started to build their dream home; this past October they moved into their new residence. Lorilie is active in the equestrian club Harbor View Vaultors based on Key Pen (see related story, page X), and enjoys looking after her two horses and providing boarding services for two others.

Robison said, “I really enjoyed designing the picnic shelter for Home Park and like volunteering with the KPMPD in general.”  His father, George Robison, is a past district governor of the Lions Club and past president of the Key Peninsula Lions. He has volunteered on different KPMPD projects though that organization as well, sometimes volunteering side by side with his son. In addition, George Robison has a past history of service with both the Coast Guard and Air Force Reserves.

It was the elder Robison who encouraged his son to seek the vacant park commissioner’s position left empty by the death of Ross Bischoff this past June. “I did submit for the position but wasn’t selected,” he said, “...but that does not mean that I won’t consider running for parks commissioner during the regular election.”

Public service, volunteerism, a strong sense of duty and belief in community appear to be the guiding principles and integral components of Robison’s family philosophy. He admits he has a taste for politics and even considered running for state representative of the 26th Legislative District when Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor) announced she would not be seeking a seventh term.

Robinson is just recently back from Pearl Harbor, where he spent two weeks on reserve duty. He has owned E&L Civil Engineering for almost 15 years and currently works out of his home.  Future plans for his engineering firm include its growth and redevelopment, as the business suffered during his deployment to Iraq. He said, “I plan to retire from the Navy Reserves within the year.”

Iraq is a subject upon which Robinson is very outspoken and passionate about.  Recently, he completed a paper on his experiences in Iraq, which evolved over a period of about six months. He said, “It is just the truth as I saw it there. Mostly I wrote it to help myself work through the many issues, but also to help others understand the issues and confusion that prevails.”

Two paragraphs at the conclusion of his 14-page account and description of life in Iraq serve to sum up his personal beliefs about the increasingly controversial occupation of that country. “The situation in Iraq needs to be evaluated with skepticism and critical analysis. The sound bites and allegations cannot be allowed to overwhelm fact and reason. The motivations of the insurgency must be interpreted from their perspective.  They have seen their world inverted by foreign invaders with no improvement in their daily lives. They are not motivated by a hatred of freedom or America but rather by survival and Iraqi nationalism.

“The continued occupation is not improving life for Iraqis. The occupation has not stabilized oil supply or prices. The U.S. presence is not motivating greater freedoms in the region. It is not discouraging radicals in the region.  The ongoing failures discourage democratic reforms because of the chaos in Iraq. Despots use it as an excuse to tighten controls in their countries by claiming that it is necessary to prevent chaos at home or defend the homeland from terrorists.”

The candid and upfront Robison said, “I am thinking about putting the paper up on the Internet. There was no upside to going in and there is no upside to staying.”