Upper Marlboro Guard sergeant killed in Iraq remembered as leader

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.

Sergeant Towns, 52, of Upper Marlboro, was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery after a memorial service at the Sanctuary at Kingdom Square in Capitol Heights. 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 of the District of Columbia 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. He had been a county correctional officer before beginning training for Iraq.

"His career is now complete," the Rev. Alton Jones said. "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, pastor of the Sanctuary, compared Sergeant Towns to the biblical David, who defeated Goliath.

"Robin Towns was a brave man," Mr. Maclin said. "Fearless. Courageous. Or, what they say in the 'hood: 'Not scared.'"

Letters of thanks and sympathy from public officials were read during the service, including messages from Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Gov. Martin O'Malley. Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown spoke with Towns family before the ceremony began.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia delegate to the House of Representatives, addressed the gathering, reciting the names of nearly a dozen of Sergeant 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," Ms. Norton said. "Seldom does a father leave such a legacy of public service."

"I treasure the years that we have shared as husband and wife," his wife of 10 years, 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."

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