In 2003, I was stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq, with my unit. It was right after I suffered my nervous breakdown after a rocket attack severly injured 2 of my soldiers.
I was reassigned to the main base of operations in the city, the air base co run by the Air Force and the Army, where I was then given the responsibility of upgrading all the buildings we were occupying, as well as coordinating the repair of local schools for the Iraqi children in the town.
One day, my assistant and I heard a USO bus was coming to the base, and would be there that afternoon. We both decided to drive out and see who was coming. It turned out to be Curt Angle, a NASCAR driver, the name escapes me, and to my surprise, Mr. Robin Williams.
I went to the area, where all the soldiers, about 1000 or more, were gathered around the stars, and I stood near the area where Mr. Williams was. There was tumultuous shouiting to have him yell out “Good Morning Vietnam” as well as a few requests for “Nanoo-Nanoo” from Mork and Mindy.
I was feeling rather embarassed for the star, as he was there to make us feel better and not showcase his films and television shows. So after about 10 minutes of listening to him ramble off several extremely funny jokes, I left the area, and hung out where we had parked.
It was right behind a bus, which I was under the impression was one of the many from the convoy for the stars that had come. I was leaning against the side of our Nissan truck when the stars were rallied back to their transportation.
I watched, amazed, as Robin Williams climbed into the bus I was sitting next to, putting on a flack jacket and helmet for the drive. He then stood next to the seat where he was going to sit, when he noticed me standing next to the truck.
A large smile crossed his face, and he waved at me. Amazed I looked around and saw he was intending it toward me. I waved back as he sat in his seat. He then stared at me, and put on an exaggerated smile, and gave me a thumbs up. Moments later the bus started up, and drove off.
There was a moment of uncomprehending the situation, followed by the sudden understanding what he was telling me. He was saying to keep a smile, and keep on soldiering. he was proud of me, of us all.
I never thought a movie star would reach out to ordinary people as he had, not to mention to offer a small bit of support to an individual soldier who must have obviously been suffering from a mental disorder.
That is a day I will never forget. A day that will remind me that we are all human, no matter our status. Robin Williams reached out to me, and consoled me.
Word reached me today that he had passed away. I want to tell this story to the world, as well as reach out to his family, to let them know that I for one was personally touched by the Humanitarian.
My thoughts go out to the entire family, and I send my complete condolences.
This is a man who will be missed by the entire world.