CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Former U.S. senator, Olympic gold medalist and professional NBA athlete Bill Bradley once said, “Ambition is the path to success, and persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”
For Sgt. Andrea M. Robb, a 24-year-old from Greeley, Colorado, persistence has paid off on her journey from becoming a U.S. Marine to serving on her first combat deployment in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Robb, who was initially interested in the military, did not join right after high school like numerous enlisted service members. She did not have a military background or family who served in America’s armed forces. Instead she went off to attend the University of Wyoming.
“When I talked to my parents about wanting to join the military they told me, ‘You got a brain; you go to college,’” said Robb.
While attending college, Robb still had a strong desire to serve, and the school offered a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program to train commissioned officers in the United States armed forces.
“All I knew about was the National Guard in Wyoming,” said Robb. “My plan was to do the ROTC program, to go officer while serving in the enlisted guard. So, I joined and I really liked it.”
During that year, she joined the Wyoming Army National Guard, attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and was awarded an Army Achievement Medal for being Soldier of the Year. That year she also began dating Seth Robb, whom she first met during middle school.
“We grew up together, lived three blocks away from each other and were best friends,” said Robb. “I was 19 years old when we started dating, but we had never dated before that. We were just always friends, then we started dating, and he is literally my other half.”
Robb was introduced to the Marine Corps by Seth, who joined the Marine Corps following high school, and became an infantryman. Seth served a combat deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed to Afghanistan during 2009, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“I began to learn a lot about the Marine Corps while dating my husband,” said Robb. “And I just fell in love with the Marine Corps.”
When Seth returned from Afghanistan during 2010, the two were married at a small ceremony with their immediate families present. Seth was stationed at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, attached to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and eight days following the wedding, Robb moved to Hawaii with her husband.
“I spent a year there,” said Robb. “Just seeing the Marines, especially the female Marines, and the presence they gave off, I felt like I had that same presence. In the guard it just was not the same. I wanted to be a full-time military member, and if I was going to go active, it was going to be with the Marines because I did not want to be anything less than a Marine.”
Robb discussed with her husband her aspiration to become a Marine. Seth was nearing the end of his enlistment and was planning to get out of the Marine Corps and enter college to pursue a Fire Science and Technology degree to become a firefighter in Colorado.
Ultimately, Seth was supportive of his wife’s decision to become a Marine, regardless of the time and distance apart the two would face.
“He told me that whatever I wanted to do he would support me, as long as we were both happy and together,” said Robb. “He said he could see this is what I really wanted to do and he supported me.”
Two months before Seth left active duty, Robb left Hawaii for Colorado where she enlisted in the Marine Corps.
“I didn’t get a ship date right away, and had to wait almost two months,” said Robb. “But I made it through boot camp, then completed (Marine Combat Training), attended my (Military Occupational Specialty) school and then received orders to Camp Pendleton.”
Robb, a supply administration specialist, checked into 9th Communication Battalion with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. She wanted a chance to deploy soon after.
“It was very important to me that I deployed,” said Robb. “I really wanted to go on a combat deployment, and my husband was very supportive of that.”
Between the couple’s deployments, being stationed in Hawaii and her joining the Marine Corps, Robb and her husband have learned to really appreciate and value the moments they get to spend together.
“The first three years my husband and I were together we literally only got to spend a total of 10 months with each other,” said Robb. “We ground each other, support each other, but I think love is ultimately where it is at. We make sure to communicate with each other whenever we can, to stay on the same page. Our time is precious, and we appreciate each other. That keeps the hope and keeps us going.”
Robb deployed to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, with Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan as the Theater Provided Equipment clerk, and is responsible for a $28 million account and oversees approximately 8,500 pieces of equipment needing to be retrograded back to the States.
“It is a very tedious job,” said Robb. “You have to be active, accurate and precise. There is a lot to manage at different levels, with different directions for handling and processing the gear and equipment.”
Since arriving during December 2013, Robb has retrograded approximately $19 million worth of equipment in support of units assigned to RC(SW). She processes gear from wrecker trucks and route clearance kits to communication gear and computers.
“Sergeant Robb is probably one of the most mission-oriented Marines I have served with or had under my charge,” said Staff Sgt. Dederick Brooks, supply chief, MEB-A. “She is fearless in the fact that she deals directly with TPE Responsible Officers that range in rank from staff sergeant to major, while needing little to no supervision with daily tasks. Not only is she technically proficient, she takes the time to mentor her peers on the Marine Corps as well as life issues.”
Since joining the Marine Corps a little more than three years ago, Robb has earned three meritorious promotions: to lance corporal, to corporal and recently during a ceremony held Aug. 2, 2014, on her current deployment, to sergeant.
“I feel a lot of her leadership stems from her incredible work ethic and desire to be the best at everything she does,” said Brooks, native of Lufkin, Texas.
“Being in the guard and then becoming a Marine has made me humble,” said Robb. “Every branch has its strengths and everyone has their weaknesses, and I definitely prefer being in the Marine Corps. Just the appearance of it, and its togetherness, its team work and that is what I like.”
After Robb’s contract ends next year with the Marine Corps, she and her husband plan to move back to Colorado, where she plans to attend the University of Northern Colorado to become a high school social studies teacher.