ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- When Sgt. 1st Class Harold Robinson, U.S. Army Sustainment Command, was 18 and living in Guyana, South America, he joined the Guyana Defense Force Coast Guard where he protected people in fishing zones. This summer, Robinson's daughter, Pvt. Nikita Robinson, became an Army Reserve Soldier.
Harold, 55, joined the U.S. Army in New York in 1994 and has been a Soldier for almost 21 years. He presently works in ASC's G-4 (logistics) and is the non-commissioned officer in-charge of the equipment division.
"When I joined the Army, I had a temper. I thought I could conquer the world ?-- fix the world. When I see broken stuff, I just want to fix it," Harold said, adding that his mentors in the Army helped him understand his limitations.
"I thought I could change the Army, and looking back, I did change my little part," he said.
On July 17, Harold watched his daughter graduate from basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Harold said he and Nikita share a fix-it attitude.
"I like working on everything, and she is the one who always passed me the tools," Harold said.
Nikita, who is 19 and the middle of three siblings, agreed.
"I've always been a daddy's girl, so if he was outside working on cars, I was out there working on cars," she said. "My other two siblings used to sleep in late, and I'd be up at 6 in the morning because he was up at 6, and we would go run errands, and fix things."
When Harold first joined the Guyanese military, he said his father was proud.
"He loved to see pictures of me in uniform," said Harold.
In contrast, when Nikita decided to enlist, her dad was not very excited. He wanted her to wait until she finished college. But when Nikita found out that her university had a low officer selection rate, she decided to enlist.
"I didn't want her to (enlist) because I know the hardship of the Army in the early years, and I wanted her to finish college before she did it," Harold said. "But she made her decision and did it. You can only support that."
Nikita will complete her advanced individual training (AIT) as a heavy equipment operator in September at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. She is currently in Company A, 554th Engineer Battalion.
Nikita said she enlisted to eventually make her a better officer.
"I decided to enlist now so that I would have the enlisted experience for when I commission," she said. "Hopefully, when I am an officer, all of this enlisted experience will help me become a better leader."
After completing her AIT, Nikita said she plans to attend Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, which has an ROTC program.
Despite his initial hesitance, Harold said he was very proud when Nikita passed basic.
"She wants to be an engineer, and that's what I'm proud of. I'm happy now that she graduated," he said. "I was gratified when I saw her walk ?-- actually, tears came to my eyes."
Nikita said that was typical of her dad.
"I don't know why he won't just let the tears fall," Nikita said with a laugh. "His eyes did water, I did catch a glimpse of that across the stage when he ran up to take the pictures."
Harold said he knows one of the real reasons his daughter joined the Army.
"She wanted me to salute her, that's what she wants. But it's not going to happen," he said with a grin. "I'm going to retire before she makes lieutenant."
"He will," she said.
(Editor's note: Interviews with Sgt. 1st Class Harold Robinson and Pvt. Nikita Robinson were conducted at separate times. Nikita was interviewed by telephone.)