New admiral bears respect, responsibility
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — As Bethesda Medical Hospital workers cared for the casket containing President John F. Kennedy’s body 40 years ago, Adam Robinson watched the scene on TV and personally noted Navy doctors’ behavior.
The professionalism and care he saw from the doctors, he said, struck a cord.
That early, chilling memory played a key role in Robinson’s career choice, and today, as a Navy captain, Robinson is slated to swap his eagle collar devices for those of a one-star admiral.
Robinson, commander of Yokosuka’s U.S. Naval Hospital for the past two years, has led medical centers and treated sailors and their families for 26 years.
Robinson’s career followed a familial course.
His father was also a doctor, but being African American, he could not join the military. Instead, he worked for Veterans Affairs.
The junior Robinson knew he wanted to do national service, and medicine was appealing. He took advantage of a new scholarship program called the Armed Forces Health Professions Scholarship and attended medical school.
Once commissioned a Navy physician, Robinson was assigned here for his first duty as an independent practitioner.
“I asked for a carrier out of Norfolk,” Robinson recalled. His detailer, a former commander at Yokosuka, had a better idea.
Robinson was sent to the Yokosuka-based USS Midway.
“I wasn’t quite sure where he was sending me,” Robinson said.
His career has brought Robinson around the world, into classrooms as teacher and student — he used his GI Bill for a master’s degree in business administration. He has served in hospitals, medical centers and on ships.
“The bulk of my career has been teaching or in the [operating room],” Robinson said.
His operational experience, combined with an MBA, primed Robinson to successfully lead a large hospital such as Yokosuka’s. He arrived after the Sept. 11 terror attacks and revitalized force health protection, established a Stork’s Nest for infant care, and supported the USS Kitty Hawk‘s medical department during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Robinson attributes his flag selection to a strong and capable staff.
“I wear the star, but that can’t be done in isolation,” he said.
He hasn’t heard when he will officially get his star or when he’ll receive orders for his next assignment.
Being an admiral carries respect but also incredible responsibility, Robinson said.
“The responsibility of flag rank [should be] taken with great humility,” he said.
Wherever he goes, Robinson said he will always remember Yokosuka fondly. “My first thought was I hope I can stay at Yokosuka another couple of years. I could stay here forever,” he said. “There’s a camaraderie that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Robinson's career ...
A native of Louisville, Ky., Robinson received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. He attended Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, and earned a medical degree in 1976.
He was commissioned in the Navy the following year.
Robinson has led the Colon and Rectal Surgery Division at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, and the General Surgery Department and General Surgery Residency Program at the Naval Medical Center, Portsmouth, Va.
He served as Force Medical Officer for the Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
In 1999, as commanding officer of Fleet Hospital Jacksonville, Robinson set up a hospital in Haiti during Joint Task Force Haiti. The hospital treated 25,000 Haitians in six months.
Robinson later served as director of readiness for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; principal director of Clinical and Program Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and was acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Clinical and Program Policy.
In August 2001, he assumed command of U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka.