Robert Wilkin (center) holds his father's Medal of Honor in between U.S. Representative Ben Cline (left) and Friendship president and CEO Joe Hoff (right)
Robert Wilkin, center, holds his father’s Medal of Honor. He is flanked by US Rep. Ben Cline, left, and Friendship President and CEO Joe Hoff.

Robert “Bob” Wilkin barely got to know his father, Cpl. Edward George Wilkin. After the elder Wilkin was killed in action during World War II, his then-7-year-old son was presented the Medal of Honor in his memory by Five Star General Omar Bradley. After many years in a local museum, that medal returned to Bob’s hands Feb. 3 during a ceremony at Friendship in Roanoke, VA. 

“I’ve got a lot of folks who do plan to come. I know they want to shake his hand,” Patricia Walters, Friendship’s activities coordinator, said beforehand. “We’re excited and just really honored that a congressman is going to take his time to come and be with us here.”

During the ceremony, Bob was presented the medal by US Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA). The Medal of Honor is the nation’s most prestigious military decoration, presented to individuals deemed to have gone above and beyond on the battlefield. The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the US Armed Forces, first issued in 1861. 

After receiving his father’s medal as a child, Bob decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. Like his father, Bob served his country in the military and participates in a veterans’ group that meets every month. Bob never may have had the chance to get to know his father well, but the impact he left on his life still resonates today. Even if he doesn’t show it.

“He sits in our nice residents’ center here, which has a library. He’s big on the jigsaw puzzles,” Walters said. “He sits here and works his puzzle and says ‘hello’ to everybody who comes by. He’s just a low-key, unassuming guy.”

Click here to see the In Focus archive and read how to submit photos of activities at your community for consideration of publication.

Bob Wilkin posing with Medal of Honor
Bob Wilkin with Patricia Walters, Friendship’s activities coordinator, at the ceremony at which he received his father’s Medal of Honor.