Biloxi Lead Lineman Mike Robinson was a U.S. Marine stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1982 and early 1983.
“It was like Las Vegas or the French Riviera, it was beautiful,” Robinson said. “And then it was Armageddon.”
Part of the first Battalion Landing Team that landed in Beirut and took control of the airport, Robinson served as a helicopter mechanic. At night, he would visit the ship’s deck to watch rival factions fire on each other, “lighting the sky up like the Fourth of July.”
Shortly after Robinson left Lebanon, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was attacked by terrorists in April 1983. More than 60 people were killed when a suicide car bombing was carried out. Later that year, in October, 214 Marines were killed in a terrorist attack at the U.S. military barracks.
“I had been in those buildings, I had walked around them,” Robinson said. “Our ships were so close to shore; it was like being on Deer Island and looking at the casinos. We were right next to all of these places.”
It’s been nearly 40 years since those terrible attacks, but they remain a focal point of an ongoing mission for Robinson.
He and his fellow VFW Post 6731 members from D’Iberville make up the Mississippi State Honor Guard. They attend military funerals throughout the year and provide several services for the family of the deceased.
“The military does not conduct funerals for all veterans,” Robinson said. “At the request of a family, we will conduct a military funeral to honor their veteran. This may include standing post with the deceased during the wake, serving as pall bearers or anything the family needs.”
Robinson and the Honor Guard will also play taps, provide a gun salute and conduct a flag folding and presentation to the family.
If a military funeral falls during the workweek, Robinson will use his vacation time to participate in the ceremony.
“Mike’s dedication and service to the country parallels his commitment and dedication to Mississippi Power and our team in Biloxi,” Line Construction & Maintenance Supervisor Kacey Carpenter said. “Mike volunteers for various committees and is a respected leader because of his knowledge of the business. His dedication and work ethic are recognized by everyone he works with.”
Memorial Day parades and ceremonies are being impacted this year because of social distancing guidelines related to the coronavirus.
Robinson and the Honor Guard will participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at the VA in Biloxi on Monday morning. And he’ll be ready to share his story if asked about his service.
“I want to share the knowledge that I have of what those people went through,” Robinson said. “It’s all out of respect for them.”
Mississippi Power, a subsidiary of Southern Company (NYSE: SO), produces safe, reliable and environmentally responsible energy for more than 188,000 customers in 23 southeast Mississippi counties. With nearly 160 megawatts of approved solar energy capacity, Mississippi Power is the largest partner in providing renewable energy in the state of Mississippi. Visit our websites at mississippipower.com and mississippipowernews.com, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.