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A lifelong commitment to the military

Chris Robbins

Photo/Jane Keller Gordon

By Jane Keller Gordon, Assistant Editor

Southborough – Chris Robbins, 74, believes that military training creates a lifelong backbone of leadership and character.

“We were trained in ways to optimize performance. I know that these skills carry over to business and government,” he said. “I can always tell when someone is military.”

Robbins served in the U.S. Army for 21 years: three years on active duty, and 18 in the Army Reserves, achieving the rank of major.

Serving in the military runs in Robbins’ family.

“My family’s service dates back before the Revolutionary War. My relatives served in the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775), the Battle of the Wilderness (1864), WWI, WWII, and the Korean Conflict,” he said.

Robbins grew up in Rye, N.Y., where he met his wife of 46 years, Terry, a retired English teacher. They have two children and three grandchildren. He and his wife have lived in Southborough since 1979.

A graduate of Defiance College in Ohio, Robbins received his master’s degree from Suffolk University.  He embarked on a career as a teacher, which was cut short in 1969. At the age of 25, Robbins was drafted at the height of the Vietnam War.

Robbins trained to be an infantry soldier and signal officer. His basic training was at Fort Dix in New Jersey, followed by advanced training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, and officer’s training at Fort Benning, Ga.

While on active duty during the Cold War, Robbins served in the Army Security Agency, intercepting enemy information. He was the lead manager for a program called Spartan Pathfinder.

“We took recalcitrant soldiers through the rigors of leadership and an Outward Bound-like experience. After 30 days, they had the possibility of changing their impending discharge from dishonorable to honorable,” he said.

Towards the end of Robbins’s active duty, he had orders to Vietnam. They were cancelled at the last minute; the war was winding down.

Unfortunately, that was not true for his close friend from Rye, who died in the U.S. of wounds sustained in Vietnam.

“I carry my friend close to my heart in everything I do that’s related to veterans. I think of him often,” Robbins said.

During his time in the reserve, he worked in sales, marketing, training and consulting.

For his last few years in the Army Reserve, Robbins was the public affairs officer for a unit stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base.

Robbins is a former president and current board member of The Armed Forces Committee of Worcester County, a nonprofit that exists to honor and support area veterans.

“We are here to support area veterans,” he noted.

In addition to his veterans’ activities, Robbins is a member of the Economic Development Committee in Southborough, and serves on the board of the Corridor Nine Area Chamber of Commerce. He is working on a fictional novel about terrorism in Boston.

Robbins is also on the board of Alliance Health and Human Services, a nonprofit that runs nursing homes and foster care programs.

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