Our City's Namesake: Augustine Warner Robins
Who is Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins?
General Augustine Warner Robins was what we in the Sons of Confederate Veterans call a "Real Son," that is, the biological son of a Confederate veteran. Unfortunately for everyone, the "Real sons" and "real daughters" of Confederate heroes have been Crossing the River at an accelerating rate in the last few decades. Like his dashing father, Colonel William Todd Robins, the commander of 24th Virginia Cavalry, A.W. Robins joined the cavalry upon his graduation from West Point in 1907.
In 1916, his troop accompanied General John Pershing to New Mexico for the "punitive expedition" against Pancho Villa. It's during that time when Robins saw an aircraft in flight for the first time. Not long thereafter he transferred to the army air corps. The timing of Robins' transfer into the air arm of the Army and earning his wings (his rank as Major) forced him into administrative positions, where he rightfully earned the appellation of the "Father of Air Logistics." As the saying goes, "amateurs discuss strategy, but professionals talk about logistics."
On 16 June 1940, Brigadier General Augustine Warner Robins, whose name the City, Base, and Center proudly bear, died at Randolph Field, Texas, of a heart attack. Serving under his permanent rank of Colonel, he was commander of the Randolph Field Flying School from March 1939 until his death. He had previously served as commander of AFMC's ancestor, Materiel Division.
Son of the dashing Confederate Civil War hero, Colonel William Todd Robins and the famous suffragette and writer Sally Nelson Robins, Robins was indirectly related to President George Washington and General Robert E. Lee. The great, great grandson of Virginia's Revolutionary War Governor and hero of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Robins was a true son of Old Virginia. On 20 June, he was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
Nearly a year after his death, on 14 June 1941, The War Department, following a long and competitive search for the site of a new air depot in the southeast, selected Wellston, Georgia, with a population of about 300 as the site for the construction of an Air Corps depot. Two days later, Macon leaders received an official telegram from U.S. Congressman Carl Vinson (D-Georgia) formally announcing the War Department's decision.
In an action that would have far reaching effects on the future of Robins Field, on 20 June 1941, War Department officials formally established the Army Air Forces (AAF) as an autonomous command within the U.S. Army. The new Army Air Force was comprised of the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps and the Air Force Combat Command (formerly GHQ Air Force). Major General Henry H. Arnold was made Chief of the Army Air Forces and reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.
Just over a year later, on 30 June 1942, workers officially completed the original depot construction job as well as the construction of the cantonment area for what was still known as the Wellston Air Depot (WAD), Robins Field. This was at a critical time during World War II.
There has always been a dearth of sound biographies of American airmen involved with engineering or logistics matters. William Head,
an official historian with the Air Force, helps fill this void with a biography of Warner Robins, perhaps the first and most
important of the air logisticians:
Every Inch a Soldier: Augustine Warner Robins and the Building of U.S. Airpower. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1995).
A painting of Augustine Warner Robins (based on the photo above) proudly adorns the lobby of Warner Robins city hall.