Family of World War II Silver Star recipient bring memorabilia to Florida armory
SANFORD, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2012) — Nearly 70 years after he was killed in battle, a central Florida Soldier’s medals and memorabilia were given to the Florida National Guard armory that bears his name.
On Jan. 10, family members of Staff Sgt. Robert L. Evans visited the Robert Evans Armory in Sanford, donating personal effects of their uncle who was killed in the Pacific in World War II.
Evans, a medic serving with the 124th Infantry Regiment’s Medical Detachment, was awarded a posthumous Silver Star after he died in action in the Philippines in 1945. The armory, which was later named after Evans, is now home to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment.
Evans’ nieces, Deborah Lynne Watts and Beverly Evans Srock, met with National Guard Soldiers at the armory and delivered mementos of their heroic uncle which included: the Silver Star medal set; his Purple Heart medal; his World War II dog tag with name and service number; and letters Evans wrote to his family while serving in the Pacific in 1944-45. The mementos also included a black-and-white photo of Evans’ brother Earl receiving the Silver Star for his late brother.
“I felt really honored and humbled that they wanted to give these items to the armory,” said Sgt. 1st Class Carlton Cooley, who accepted the memorabilia on behalf of the Florida National Guard. “It was incredible to hold a hand-written letter from Sergeant Evans from 1944 and hold his actual dog tag.”
Srock, who lives in Sanford, said she and her cousin brought the items to the National Guard in the hopes they would be better preserved by the unit and appreciated by the Soldiers. She noted that although she never knew Evans, her family feels a tremendous amount of pride in his service and the fact that the Sanford armory is named for him.
According to Florida Department of Military Affairs records, Robert L. Evans was born in North Carolina in 1916, raised in Sanford, and joined the Florida National Guard in 1934. He was mobilized with the Medical Detachment for the 124th Infantry Regiment, 31st Division, in November 1940 and deployed to the Southwest Pacific.
Evans was killed May 6, 1945, while his medical unit was supporting the 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines. As the Infantry Soldiers advanced to seize an enemy airstrip, they encountered enemy resistance in dense jungle and suffered heavy casualties. Soldiers from the Medical Detachment voluntarily went in front of friendly lines to recover and treat wounded, and according to reports the medical personnel evacuated approximately 90 causalities throughout the day under heavy enemy fire. Evans was among the medics killed during the battle.