Robles first unit, Eco. 1-22IN BN 4thID, won several medals while he was with them in Germany. But for Robles, medals aren’t important.
“We don’t consider ourselves to be heroes, the real heroes are the battle buddies out there that went above the call of duty and lost their lives, and now their families are without them,” Robles said. “So the word ‘hero’ for me, for someone to tell me that, I don’t consider myself to be a hero. My three friends I lost out there—those were the heroes.”
Robles enlisted in the Army right after high school and worked telecommunications for the military in Germany. Robles had to train his body to work three days straight with no sleep due to the classified nature of his work and the amount of manpower it required.
“It was very exhausting,” he said.
During his time in Germany, he witnessed the transition from “brick cellphones” to “flip phones” to smaller models and faster computers.
“It was amazing and surprising how technology advanced real quick,” Robles said.
The native Texan spent two additional years in Germany working for the commissary on contract. Prior to getting stationed in Germany, he said the only cultures he knew were American and Hispanic. In Europe he encountered multiple cultures while traveling the continent.
He climbed the highest mountain in Austria, learned how to ski and went white water rafting. Both of Robles children were born while in Germany, giving them dual citizenship.
“I love the culture there; the area was just amazing,” Robles said.
Robles returned to the United States and enrolled in college after working in Germany. After the shocking events of 9/11, Robles was called and asked to reenlist, along with everyone else with prior military service experience.
This time around, Robles was in the Navy, working launch and recovery on the USS Ronald Reagan as it was still under construction.
“I was eager to go back in, but I wasn’t too thrilled about the Navy,” Robles said.
Robles said because of the skills he acquired in Germany, his commander wanted him to be one of his “right hand men.” Robles’ duties were similar to what he had done in Germany, along with updating regulations and learning graphic design.
Robles remained with the Navy until he sustained an injury during physical training. He landed in a pothole, causing his knee to go inward and tear some of his ligaments. After he healed from surgery he went on to work as a correctional officer at the state jail in Raymondville.
Robles enlisted for the third time in 2006 as a supply sergeant, and was sent to Iraq in 2007.
“It was different; I’ve never been to an area where all you see is sand and dirt,” Robles said. “The heat was unbearable. I’ve lived in the valley all my life; and this heat is just different.”
It was 16 years after he first enlisted, and he could tell this time around was different, not just because of the region or the way the uniforms were digital camouflage with velcro.
“In my opinion, the soldiers weren’t as disciplined,” Robles said when comparing Operation Iraqi Freedom’s soldiers to the ones he served with in the early 1990s.
Robles suffered another accident just three months after arriving in Iraq. During training, a squad member tripped and grabbed Robles on his way down, shattering his knee cap.
After another knee surgery, Robles returned to his old job as a correctional officer and applied to the police academy. He was hired by TRPD in February 2011 and says he is enjoying his time in Three Rivers.
“I am so glad and honored Chief (Vance) Roberts gave me this chance to work with this fantastic group of guys we got here,” Robles said. “Working with everyone here has been great. I love my job, and I love what I do.”