By DAN LAMOTHE, Capital News Service
CAPITOL HEIGHTS (November 7, 2007) - Staff Sgt. Robin L. Towns Sr. was more than a soldier and family man: He was a quiet, inspirational leader whose public service inspired family members to join law enforcement, the military and the CIA, friends and family said.
Towns, 52, of Upper Marlboro, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday following a memorial service at The Sanctuary at Kingdom Square here. He was killed Oct. 24 by a roadside bomb in Bayji, Iraq, nine days after he was deployed as a member of the 275th Military Police Company, 372nd Military Police Battalion, Washington, D.C., National Guard.
More than 200 people attended the service, including dozens in the dress uniforms of the Army National Guard and Prince George's County Department of Corrections.
"His career is now complete," Alton Jones, a church leader, told the congregation. "The Lord has retired him, and I'm sure he has given him a great retirement package that includes a placard that says, 'Job well done, my good and faithful servant.'"
The Rev. Anthony G. Maclin compared Towns to the biblical David, a king and warrior who defeated the giant, Goliath.
"A lot of time, we think that bravery is running through a line with linebackers and defensive backs and 300-pound linemen. We think that bravery is getting into the ring and fighting an opponent for 15 rounds," Maclin said. His voice boomed as he said, "Robin Towns was a brave man! Fearless! Courageous! Or, what they say in the 'hood: 'Not scared!'"
Letters of thanks and sympathy from several public officials were read during the service, including messages from U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and Gov. Martin O'Malley. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown greeted the Towns family before the ceremony began.
D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton addressed the congregation, reciting the names of nearly a dozen of Towns' family members involved in public service. At least one of his six children is in the military, and another is in law enforcement.
"It's obvious he led by example," Holmes said. "Seldom does a father leave such a legacy of public service."
A native of Portsmouth, Va., Towns first joined the military in 1973 right out of high school. He served for 16 years, becoming a platoon sergeant in communications management before receiving an honorable discharge in 1989.
Following the terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and on the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, Towns began considering how he could make a difference, friends said Tuesday. He joined the Army National Guard as a military police officer in 2003, earning citations after his unit was deployed in Mississippi to respond to Hurricane Katrina.
In May, Towns also became a Prince George's County corrections officer, and was credited with providing maturity and stability to young officers.
Towns' wife of 10 years, Sheila, and family declined to speak to reporters Tuesday, but aired a slide show before the service showing Towns doing everything from grilling food to posing at weddings.
"I treasure the years that we have shared as husband and wife," Sheila Towns wrote in a note included in a booklet distributed at the service. "Our families blended beautifully and gave us both a wonderful family life."