Remains of Arkansas Marine lost in WWII still missing, but symbol of his faith returns to the US

Veteran Voices

BIG FORK, Ark. – Arkansas native Private Robert Hillard was a Marine and just a teenager when he was killed in WWII. His remains still haven’t come home.

Hillard was showcased in a previous story KARK did back in July, but a recent discovery is now putting his name in the national spotlight.

A piece of history was unearthed, and now the story of a boy from Big Fork, Arkansas will be shared with millions.

Susan Hillard was on vacation with family in Greece when KARK sent her some amazing news.

The cross belonging to her uncle, Pvt. Robert Hillard was discovered on the WWII battlefield where he died nearly 100 years ago.

“Oh, that’s cool!” Susan said. “That’s so cool! We were both shocked.”

Pvt. Hillard was killed in the Battle of Tarawa in 1943. His body was left behind in a hasty grave and his remains have been lost to history ever since.

His cross was found by History Flight, a non-profit that works hard to bring these missing Marines home.

“It’s something tangible that we haven’t had,” Susan said.

Now, Pvt. Hillard’s cross, photo and story are on display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps near Washington, D.C.  

“It’s pretty cool that a boy from Big Fork is getting a little attention,” Susan said.

But more than that, Susan believes her grandmother, Robert’s mom, is smiling down.

“That’s the big thing,” Susan said. “I would like for him to be found and it all take place for her. I think she would be sad, but proud.”

Susan said she’s thankful to History Flight for working hard in less-than-comfortable conditions.

“It’s hot and it’s muggy and it’s wet and nasty and they’re doing it because they care and that’s something,” Susan said.

And so is the dream that comes with it.

“I think we’re all just really hopeful that he’s gonna be found now,” she said.

The service and sacrifice of an Arkansas boy…who is still being talked about nearly 100 years later.

Every year, 500,000 people visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps. This includes 52,000 children.

Pvt. Hillard’s family has plans to visit the museum soon to do what Susan says is “see the display, touch it and claim it.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending on WKBN.com