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Robert Harold Adkins
1921-1944

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear."

Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Army Corporal Robert Harold (“Bob”) Adkins was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lindsey Adkins of Winslow, near Beech Fork, Wayne County, West Virginia. He was born in Ohio in 1921, possibly 1922, and the 1930 Federal Census shows that he lived with his maternal grandparents, Thomas F. and Emma Howard, at the time.

By the time he reached adolescence, Bob was apparently residing in his parents’ home at Winslow. There he attended Wayne County High School for three years. He became a welder or flame-cutter and worked for Owens-Illinois Glass Company in Huntington before he entered the military. On July 19, 1943, he enlisted in the Army at Huntington, West Virginia, where his brother, Otis Adkins, had also enlisted. Bob’s enlistment record indicates he was “single, with dependents,” which may mean that he enrolled a parent or grandparent as a dependent, which was often the case in World War II. While Bob entered the European theater, Otis went the other direction, being deployed to New Guinea and other Pacific areas. Bob’s obituary (“Winslow Soldier Killed in Italy,” Wayne County News, June 23, 1944) notes that his father was employed in Akron, Ohio—most likely in the rubber industry—for the duration of the war, while his mother maintained the home in Beech Fork.

Cpl. Adkins was killed in Italy on May 24, 1944. Ironically, this date marked the last day of the invasion at Anzio (January 22-May 24, 1944), about which military historian Clayton D. Laurie says:

At 0545, 23 May, a 45-minute Allied artillery barrage opened on the Cisterna front, followed by armor and infantry attacks along the entire line from Carano to the Mussolini Canal. Although resistance was very stiff, by evening the 1st Special Service Force and 1st Armored Division had breached the enemy main line of resistance, while the XII Tactical Air Command completed the last of 722 sorties. The following day VI Corps forces cut Highway 7 above Cisterna and encircled the town, the scene of continued heavy fighting by desperate enemy forces. The town finally fell on 25 May at the cost of 476 Americans killed, 2,321 wounded, and 75 missing.

“Anzio 1944,” U.S. Army Center of Military History Online, http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/anzio/72-19.htm [accessed Nov. 22, 2011].

It was in this context that Cpl. Bob H. Adkins lost his life. His remains were returned to the United States in 1949 and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Article by Patricia Richards McClure.

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West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.


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