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Colonel David Robinson, the outgoing Marine Aircraft Group 31 commanding officer, prepares for his last flight in a F/A-18 Hornet July 21, aboard Fightertown. His 24-year-long career ends almost symbiotically with the retirement of an aircraft he has flown since the beginning.

Photo by Cpl. Justin M. Boling

3 Aug 2011 | Cpl. Justin M. Boling

As with any other day on Fightertown, Marines prepare the aircraft and pilots gear up to fly them. On July 21, a pilot and leader climbed into the cock pit of an F/A-18 Hornet for the last flight of his more than two-decade-long career.

Colonel David Robinson, the outgoing commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 31, finished his command by flying an aircraft that has allowed him to provide defense for the United States of America.

“It would take me two days to talk about all I have learned and have accomplished while being in the Marine Corps and flying the F/A-18 Hornet,” said Robinson. “I have had the honor and privilege of working with the best people any leader could ever hope for.”

Over the 24 years of his career, Robinson shared 21 of those years with his wife Mary Delle. According to her, they had a blast at the numerous duty stations and squadrons the family has been a part of.

“He has had an amazing career and quite the adventure,” said Mary Delle. “It seems surreal knowing that this chapter of our life is coming to an end, but we are very excited about our future.”

Robinson loved investing in the future of others, and as such, enjoyed teaching most of all during his career. Since he got so much out of teaching, he wanted it to be a theme during his last leap into the sky. To accomplish this he flew his last flight with Capt. Christopher Robinson, a Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 pilot, which was the same squadron Col. Robinson, then a captain, flew with at the beginning of his carrier as a Marine Corps aviator.

“I chose to fly with Capt. Robinson because it gave me one last chance to be a teacher which is the most cherished role I have ever had,” said Robinson. “It was everything that I wanted for my last flight in the Hornet.”

Robinson‘s parents Robbie and Joyce Robinson were present to see their son’s last flight and held both a sense of sadness and relief, knowing this would be the last time they would ever watch their son soar into the wild blue yonder.

“I knew this day would be sad for him,” said Joyce. “It is always scary to watch your child take off so fast into the air, though he always reassured us that it was safer than driving a car, but being his parent we always had our fears.”

The Hornet one day will follow the same path as Robinson toward retirement as the military moves forward with the Joint Strike Fighter. The careers of both this great man and aircraft seemingly intertwined.

“I think it is only fitting that my career ends with the Hornets,” said Robinson. “I began flying when the Hornet was a brand new aircraft and I am leaving before the Joint Strike Fighter retires them.”

Robinson’s leadership and experience will be missed by those Marines who served with the man. Through the impact of the lessons he taught and those he has inspired, Robinson will live on to keep the torch of Marine Corps Aviation burning brightly.