My Pulse News

Mena Arkansas News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

WWII Hero’s Medals to be Returned to Relatives through the “Iron Horse Express”


Most likely, the remains of Naval Petty Officer Robert Roland Williford will never be recovered from the East China Sea where he remains on eternal patrol, but his family has now been reunited with his medals he earned for his gallantry service that will forever remain a reminder and heirloom of his ultimate sacrifice made for his country during World War II.

The Pulse first brought you the Williford story when his medals, Purple Heart, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, WWII Victory Medal, WWII Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal and the coveted Submarine Combat Patrol Pin, were entrusted to the professionals at Beasley Wood Funeral Home after being discovered in a wooded area. Burt Allinder and the staff began the search to reunite the symbols of a life of service with the closest living relative and requested the assistance of local media. The story was also posted on-line at that generated numerous leads to descendants.

memorial service was held August 30 and, at that time, the medals were surrendered to the Arkansas State Captain of the Patriot Guard Riders and also a volunteer aboard the USS Razorback SS394 Museum in North Little Rock, where Williford’s decorations were to be displayed until the CLOSEST living relative could be determined.

Since that time, that relative has been determined as Wayne Williford of Cortez, Colorado.  Wayne is Robert’s nephew and was 9-years old at the time Williford was lost at sea. He is now 77 and told The Pulse, “those medals would mean a lot to me and the other family that are still here in Cortez.”

Taylor said  “as a direct result of The Pulse and Beasley Wood’s efforts, a relative was finally located” and said he couldn’t be more proud of the happy ending to this story. He believes it would be impersonal to simply ship the case to him so he has dispatched the “Iron Horse Express” who will relay from Arkansas through Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and then on to Cortez to personally present Wayne with the decorations.

Taylor expressed his gratitude to CAPT Bob Young who delivered the eulogy, the VFW Honor Guard, Marine Corps League, and the Patriot Guard Riders “for ensuring the sacrifice of this veteran and his shipmates did not go unnoticed.  I also want to give special thanks to Beasley Wood for going above and beyond to make this happen. Your service was exemplary.”

Taylor has promised photos of the relay and the transfer of the medals at each point all the way home to Williford’s family in Cortez and will be available at

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