General Roscoe Robinson Jr.
Roscoe Robinson Jr. graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1951 and soon thereafter earned the Bronze Star Medal for his service as a rifle company commander in the Korean War. He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1963 and then earned his Master of Public and International Affairs degree at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs in 1964.
During the Vietnam War, Robinson served as battalion commander for the 7th Cavalry Regiment (earning the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, and 11 Air Medals) and then as deputy chief of staff for logistics. After Vietnam, he served at the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command in the directorate that dealt with civil affairs and served as executive officer to the chief of staff.
In 1973, he was promoted to brigadier general and was appointed to command the U.S. Army Garrison in Okinawa, Japan. Later commands included the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., and the U.S. Army Japan/IX Corps. Robinson was promoted to four-star general in 1982, becoming the first African American to achieve that rank. He also served from 1982 to 1985 as U.S. representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium. He was the first African American to serve in this role.
Upon his retirement in 1985, Robinson was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. In 1993, Robinson received West Point’s Distinguished Graduate Award.
In April 2000, seven years after his death, the South Hall of the historic Thayer Hall auditorium at West Point—one of the academy’s most frequently used lecture facilities—was renamed General Roscoe Robinson, Jr. Auditorium in honor of Robinson.