BY LEANN DILBECK –
A World War II Navy seaman, on eternal patrol in the East China Sea, will now be honored with Memorial Services this week. The medals earned by 3rd Class Motor Machinist’s Mate Robert Roland Williford were recently discovered and turned in to Beasley Wood Funeral Homes in hopes of finding relatives.
Williford’s name is engraved on each of the five medals, including the Purple Heart, which is awarded for “unusual gallantry” and “extraordinary fidelity and essential service.” Among the collection of medals are the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the WWII Navy Good Conduct Medal, and the American Campaign Medal.
Little is known of Williford, only that he is originally from Pleasant View, Colorado. Beasley Wood has made media announcements hoping to locate relatives but to date no one has stepped forward. They are unable to utilize military records to discover next-of-kin because they do not possess a DD214, only the medals.
What they have been able to discover is that the military records state Williford was lost on February 1, 1944 along with 78 other shipmates aboard the USS Scorpion but the exact details are unknown. Among the last details known of the Scorpion are that the vessel requested a rendezvous with Herring, which was returning from patrol and was near her, to tend to a minor injury on board the submarine. The Scorpion was never seen or heard from again after her departure from that rendezvous and was ultimately reported “sunk and lost at sea.”
There is not any Japanese information that indicates the Scorpion sustained any “anti-submarine” antics of the enemy but Japanese Notices to Mariners do indicate that there were several mine lines across the entrance to the Yellow Sea. Since there were no known survivors, the general assumption is that she hit a mine, and her 78 crew members will remain on an eternal patrol.
Beasley Wood has requested the Patriot Riders and the VFW as well as the local Marine Corp League to assist with the local services, which are scheduled for 10 a.m. this Friday, August 30, at their chapel. Full military honors will be rendered.
Beasley Wood said they plan to display his flag and his medals in an appropriate case.