Career of Paul M. Robinett

Author:  Colonel Howard V. Canan

Subjects: World War II, Interwar

Paul M. Robinett, a descendant of Ozark pioneers, was born December 19, 1893 at Mountain Grove, Missouri, and received his early education there. After graduating from the Mountain Grove High School. he spent the summer working in the Kansas harvest fields and then attended the University of Missouri at Columbia from wh ich he graduated in 1917 with a B.S. in Agriculture. By that time, the United States had declared war on Germany. Robinett volunteered but was underweight and was rejected. As he had received a graduate fellowship at Iowa State University, Ames, he started work there, but could not bring himself to remain inactive during the war. He attempted to enlist, but instead was accepted for officer training. After completing the training, he was commis­sioned a second lieutenant of cavalry.

Robinett soon found himself with the 1st Cavalry on the Mexican Border where he remained during the remainder of t he war and was promoted to first lieutenant in the Regular Army. Soon thereafter he was ordered to the Cavalry School at Fort Riley. Kansas, where he took the Troop Commander’s Course. Upon graduation, he was assigned to command Machine Gun Troop No . 1 and at the same time to be an instructor in Machine Gunnery and animal transportation. He also became an outstanding horseman and was selected for the Army Equestrian Team.

The Equestrian Team showed in many contests in the United States. Canada, London, England, and represented the United States in the Olympic Games in Paris, France , in 1924 . In 1925 he was detailed to attend the French Cavalry School at Saumur, France, and to attend French maneuvers in the Strasbourg area .

In 1927 Robinett was appointed aide-de-camp to Major General Malin Craig and served with him in Panama and then in San Francisco, California. While with General Craig, later Chief of Staff. U.S. Army, he was frequently assigned additional duties in the various staff sections. In 1931, he was designated G-1 and G-4 of Grand Joint Exercise No. 4 in which an Army and Navy force tested the regulat ions for joint action and the defenses of Hawaii. This was the largest joint maneuver before Pearl Harbor.

In the summer of 1932 Robinett was liaison officer with the judges at the Los Angeles Olympic Equestrian Games. Then for the next two years he was a student at the Comm and and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth. Kan sas. where officers arc trained for higher command and staff ·positions. In 1933 the course was suspended when both students and faculty were detailed with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Robinett went to Oregon with a com pa ny but beca me executive of t he Eugene District before bei ng ordered back to school. After graduating at Leaven wort h he was assigned to the 9th Cavalry and as an instructor. for the second time . at the Cavalry School and served as G-3 in a test of the I Cavalry Corps’ Mobilization Plan .

During the summer of 1935 Robinett studied foreign affairs and Japan in courses at Harvard University. In 1936 he was detailed as a student a t the Army War College, Washington. D.C. This was followed by assignment to the G-2 Division. War Department General Staff, where he revised or prepared all man uals petiaining to military intelligence. About the time this work was completed. he was appointed to the Secretariat of the War Department General Staff where he was closely associated with Chief of Staff George C. Marshall.

In 1941, when it appeared that the United States might soon be in the war, General Headquarters was formed in Washington and Robinett, now colonel. was assigned as G-2-the intelligence officer. He was also appointed on the Secretariat of the ARCADIA CONFERENCE of the Combined American and British Chiefs of Staff when the Grand Strategy Plans for World War II were developed .

General Headquarters was discontinued in 1942, giving Robinett the opportunity to return to troops and the com mand of the 13th Armored Regiment. He took this regiment to the British Isles and later to North Africa. He commanded Task Force Green and made an amphibious landing west of Oran and eventually captured the city. For his success. Robinett was promoted brigadier general and given command of Combat Command B. I st Armored Division . He fought this unit successfully in many engagements. particularly at Dj. el Hamra and Kasserine Passes. He was wounded on 5 May 1943 in the final action. which led to the capture of Tunis and Bizerta .

For his outstanding work in North Africa. Robinett was awarded the U.S . Distinguished Service Medal. Legion of Merit. and Purple Heart: the French Legion of Honor and Croix de Guerre. with two palms: the Brazilian Order of Military Merit in grade of Commander: and the Tunisian Grand Cordon. Order of Nichan-lftikhan.

Robinett was sent to Walter Reed Hospital in ­ Washington. D.C., where he came under the skillful hands of another Missourian , Lieutenant Colonel Glen R . Spurling. who performed a delicate operation on the sciatic nerve of his left leg which saved it. Upon release from the hospital in February. 1944, he was assigned as comman­ dant of the Armored School at Fort Knox. Kentucky. on a limited duty status. He held this command through V-J Day. While there he made many improvements in the school and in the field manuals. Then by V-E Day he had developed in struction to fit conditions in the Pacific Theater .

After V-J Day Robinett was returned to Walter Reed for another operation and was released and retired on 31 August 1946 because of disability, incident to wounds received in battle.

Back in Mountain Grove, he was made an Honorary Member of Kiwanis and a Life Member of the American Legion. He was a Delegate at Large to the Repu blican National Convention in 1948.

In 1948, Robinett began anot her career as an historian. As Chief. Special Studies Sect ion. Office of t he Chief of Milit ary History. U.S. Army. he had about 75 h istorians u nder his supervision . Du ring t his work he secured t he cooperation of several high ranking Germa n generals in t he writing of the Official Military History of the United States Army in World War II. This was t he first time history had been writ ten with the participants of bot h sides collaborating. Colonel General Franz Halder, Chief of Staff, German Army 1940-43, spoke most highly of Robinett’s role in furthering the understanding between the t wo armies which developed after World War II.

Robinett was the recipient of a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a member of the Societies of Colonial Wars. Sons of the American Revolu t ion. War of 1812. Military Order of the World Wars, and the American Legion. He is also a Life Member of the State Historical Society of Missouri and of the Missouri Chapter of the Honor Society of Gam ma Sigma Delta, a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C.. and trustee of Patriotic Education. Inc.

Since his retirement, Robinett has authored books, including Preparation for Leadership in America, Armor Command, co-author and general editor of American Military History, 1607-1953, and Education In Mountain Grove, 1835-1913. He is co-author of Bass and Float Fishing now on the press. He has written for the Dictionary of American Biography and for Encyclopaedias Britannica and Americana and has had n umerous articles published in historical and military publications.

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Location: Vault

Language: english