~ by Bob Volpe ~
A large crowd of veterans and local citizens turned out to memorialize the life of local resident, Green Beret Sergeant Elliott Robbins, who was killed last week in Afghanistan along with two of his comrades.
It was a chilly morning when more than 100 people turned out at 5:30 a.m. to honor Robbins in front of the Costello Street Coffee House in Florissant, which he and his wife Vickie Robbins own.
The popular coffee shop, located at the junction of Teller 1 and U.S. Hwy. 24 is an acclaimed local hangout. The Robbins’ bought the business a year and a half ago, as part of a way to live their version of the American dream.
But that dream has taken a drastic turn. However, locals and veterans came out in force last Thursday morning to offer their support to the Robbins family. Throngs of friends and strangers gathered around the coffee house to write cards, pray, give emotional farewells, hug each other, and to celebrate the heroic deeds of a former veteran. American flags donned the community of Florissant, a town that is not afraid to exhibit patriotism on its sleeves.
Elliott Robbins was one of the soldiers reported killed in Afghanistan on June 30th. Heartbreakingly, he was only three weeks away from coming home. He and Vickie had just had their first son, Elliott Jr, just a few weeks before this deployment began. Elliott Jr. will be growing up without knowing his father. But the child will certainly learn plenty about his father through the network of area veterans.
Elliott Robbins had a remarkable military career.
According to the website, Miltary.com, “Sgt. 1st Class Elliott J. Robbins, a medical sergeant with the 10th SFG (A), died Sunday from “non-combat related injuries” in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman, said in a July 1 press release.
The 31-year-old Ogden, Utah native’s death occurred five days after Master Sgt. Micheal B. Riley of 2nd Battalion, 10th SFG (A) was killed in a June 25 gun battle with suspected Taliban fighters in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province. Sgt. James G. Johnston of the 79th Ordnance Battalion (Explosive Ordnance Disposal), 71st Ordnance Group, was also killed in the June 25 engagement.
The three deaths, which are under investigation, bring the number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 10, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Col. Lawrence Ferguson, commander of 10th SFG (A), described Robbins as a “skilled soldier with three combat deployments.”
“We mourn the tragic passing of Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins. The 10th Special Forces Group has paid a heavy toll in recent days,” Ferguson said in the release. “While we mourn, we will support Sgt.
1st Class Robbins’ Family and honor his service.”
Robbins joined the Army in June 2006 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division as an infantryman. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course and was assigned to 10th SFG (A) in 2016, according to the release.
Robbins deployed to Iraq with the 101st in 2007, and twice to Afghanistan in 2017 and 2019 with 10th SFG (A), the release states.
Robbins’ awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal with Combat Device and one Oak Leaf Cluster; Army Achievement Medal with one Silver and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; Valorous Unit Award; and Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Four Knot Device, the release
Robbins also received the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, according to the release.
His awards also include the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 2; Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral 2; NATO Medal; Special Forces Tab; Ranger Tab; Combat
Infantryman Badge; Expert Infantryman Badge; Military Freefall Parachutist Badge; and Parachutist Badge, according to the release.
But the July 4th memorial in Florissant wasn’t about these awards.
According to reports, Army officials reportedly came to the door of Vickie Robbins’ home on the evening of June30 to deliver the tragic news. While she visited with her family away from Colorado in mourning her husband’s death, locals and neighbors organized a gathering to offer their support on July 4.
It wasn’t hard to generate many attendees, as Teller County is an area that takes care of their veterans. Altogether, it is estimated that more than 200 attended throughout the morning.
The gathering featured a number of tribute speeches and special memories of Elliot Robbins. One of the most emotional speeches came from Don Bartron, a retiree of the 10th Special Forces Group, who also served as a Green Beret before Elliott. The latest Afghan casualties have hit the Special Forces group hard.
Bartron stressed the importance of viewing July 4th as “Independence Day” and a way to “come together.”
It is still unclear if other special tributes will be organized in the future to honor Elliott Robbins. But if history repeats itself in Teller County, the life of the former veteran and Florissant business owner won’t be forgotten.