NASCAR honored the life and service of local fallen military member SSG Conrad A. Robinson. His name was put on the car of Cup Series rookie Todd Gilliland for the Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day.
“It is special for me to honor Staff SSG Robinson and have his family with us,” Gilliland said. “It puts things in perspective … I want to thank my teams and Boot Barn for making that honor happen.”
SSG Robinson’s name was on the windshield of the Boot Barn Ford Mustang that Gilliland drove. SSG Robinson has served for 17 years in the military, working as a medical officer. SSG Robinson also earned several awards, including Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, and Basic Marksmanship qualification.
“He has been honored a lot by different organizations,” said SSG Robinson’s grandmother, Aleeta Walters. “They called him such a gentle giant.”
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While he served in the military he studied at Kaplan University and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in health science in 2014.
SSG Robinson joined the army in April 2001; he found his niche in healthcare and was reclassed to the 68S Preventive Medicine Specialist by 2009. He was sent to serve in several different countries, including Germany, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. He was deployed to Kosovo in February and met his untimely death at camp Bonsteel, Kosovo on May 24, 2018. Many soldiers posted tributes to SSG Robinson on Facebook, according to Walters.
“At his funeral, a brigadier general came and said a speech,” she said. “He loved to take care of his fellow soldiers, he was a very kind and sweet person.”
A true family man, SSG Robinson did not talk about work when he was with his family. They did not know about the awards that he earned until after he died.
His peers called him “Big Rob,” Walters noted how he was also referred to as a “soldier’s soldier.”
“They called him “Big Rob” because he was always looking out for his fellow soldiers, especially young ones, telling them what to do,” she said. “They called him a ‘gentle giant’ because he was a sweet, caring person although he was a big guy.”