ROANOKE, Va. – Robert Wilkin has spent decades trying to find his father’s Medal of Honor after he was first awarded it back when he was a child.
Wilkin’s father was U.S. Army Corporal Edward Wilkin. Cpl. Wilkin repeatedly went ahead of his unit and engaged the German forces alone, and later evacuated wounded soldiers from the battlefield despite heavy enemy fire.
He contributed in large measure to his company’s success in cracking the Siegfried line.
Wilkin’s father was eventually killed later in the war. At the age of seven, Wilkin was presented the Medal of Honor by Five-star General Omar Bradley.
“I remember the ceremony, General Omar Bradley presenting it to me but what it really meant, what it represented,” Wilkin said. “I never really understood it until I got older of course.”
After some time, Wilkin lost touch with the medal. For decades he didn’t know where it was or who it was with.
He reached out U.S. Congressman Ben Cline to see if his team could help with replacing the medal.
“When it comes to finding a lost medal or replacing a lost medal — that is something our team does,” Cline said. “This one was a little unique because they weren’t able to replicate it or reproduce it. So for my team to go the extra step beyond, to track down the original in a museum in Massachusetts, just reinforces to me what a great job they do.”
The team found the medal with the Longmeadow Historical Society, in Wilkin’s hometown.
“I had no idea where it was, he said it was out on the west coast,” Wilkin said. “To have it come back to the long meadow society, I know the area well.”
On Friday afternoon, Rep. Cline re-presented the Medal of Honor back to Wilkin. Cline said it was just an honor to be able to do it.
“Only 400 of these were awarded in World War II and only a few thousand have been awarded since,” Cline said. “The medal was established by Abraham Lincoln, so to be able to present this on behalf of a grateful nation, it’s part of my job and my honor to be able to present it to him today.”
Wilkin says he doesn’t have much to remember his father by but the medal is one of those things. He says he’s so grateful that it will remain in the Wilkin family for the rest of time.
“I can’t express the feeling that I have to have it back — that it can be in my present family,” Wilkin said.