Man receiving big award from Department of Defense

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A Utah business owner is off to Washington, D.C., to receive the highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense to employers. He's receiving it because his Salina trucking company gives exceptional support to guardsmen called to duty.

Kim Robinson boarded a plane for Washington, D.C., this morning. In a couple of days he'll receive the Employer Support Freedom Award and shake hands with the president. He told us, "It's a great honor."

His company, Robinson Transport, hauls coal to power plants across the state. Seven of his 140 employees deployed to Iraq in recent years. Legally, all he has to do is keep their jobs for them when they deploy, but Robinson Trucking gave its soldiers full pay and benefits.

"I appreciate what they're doing for me. They're over there fighting for the freedoms which I enjoy. I feel that I can give them something back in return," Robinson said.

The Freedom Award recognizes the exemplary ways employers support their National Guard and Reserve employees. Robinson's employees nominated him. He first received the state award and then the national recognition.

"Awesome to be nominated like that. It wasn't something we was looking at when we was addressing the men in Iraq," he said.

Robinson thinks his support for soldiers benefits the entire workforce even though it certainly costs Robinson Trucking to pay people who aren't on the job. "It does, but what's the cost of our freedom? That's the way I look at it," he said.

Robinson will meet with the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Vice President Cheney. He's also slated to meet President Bush on Friday.



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