Willard S. Lilly was the son of Joseph R. and Anna Laura Lilly of Cool Ridge, Raleigh County, West Virginia. Willard was a graduate of Shady Spring High School in Raleigh County. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1938 and was sent to the Philippines for service.
Willard served with great courage in the Philippines in defense of freedom, but he was captured as a prisoner of war when the in American and Filipino troops on the islands were forced to surrender to the invading enemy army in 1942. Willard was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Shinyo Maru, Willard lost his life on September 7, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine. His death was received by the War Department on February 14, 1945.
Willard was awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Willard S. Lilly's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Willard's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History