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Roscoe Robinson, Jr. was the first African-American to become a four-star general in the United States Army.
He was born on October 11, 1928, in St. Louis, Mo. He attended St. Louis University for only a year and then transferred to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1947. Robinson graduated with a degree in military engineering in 1951. After graduating he served in the Korean War in 1952 as a platoon leader and rifle company commander. For his actions he received the Bronze Star.
Sent back to the United States a year later, he became an instructor in the Airborne Department of the United States Army Infantry School. Robinson then went on to graduate from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1963. The following year he received his master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in international affairs.
In 1967 he served as battalion commander in Vietnam. For his achievements there he received the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 11 Air Medals, and two Silver Stars.
After Vietnam, he served at the National War College for three years as the executive officer to the chief of staff. He was promoted to brigadier general and in 1975 became commanding general of the United States Army Garrison, Okinawa. He also commanded America's Guard of Honor, the 82nd Airborne Division, as a major general at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1976 and was renowned for earning the love and respect of his men, his fellow paratroopers, during his command - which was noteworthy for, Gen. Robinson was, the first African-American to command the All-American Division.
His final assignment was as U.S. military representative to the NATO Military Committee from 1982-1985. After Robinson completed 34 years of service in the military, he retired in 1985. He was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and two Distinguished Service Medals.
After his retirement, he was asked to look over a panel of people who were examining the Korean War performance of some highly criticized army units. He also served on the board of Northwest Airlines.
After with a battle with leukemia, Roscoe Robinson, Jr. died on July 22, 1993, at the age of 64, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In April 2000, there was a ceremony and a dedication at West Point for a new auditorium, named “General Roscoe Robinson, Jr. Auditorium” in his honor. The Roscoe Robinson Health Clinic at Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg is also named in his honor.