Nearly seven decades after his death at the hands of the Japanese during their opening salvo against America’s armed forces.
Early on the morning of Dec. 8, 1941, nine Japanese fighter planes swooped down on Malalag Bay in the Philippines and strafed and sunk two U.S. Navy seaplanes at the very outset of World War II. All of the Americans escaped unharmed except Ensign Robert G. Tills, 23, of Manitowoc, Wis., who was cut down by machine gun bullets. "Ensign Robert Tills died in the fusillade of bullets from the Japanese strafers, the first American naval officer killed in the defense of the Philippines," the Naval Historical Center wrote.
Ensign Tills died during one of the many near-simultaneous sneak attacks upon American military bases in the Pacific on December 7/December 8, 1941. His body was not recovered – until recently. His sole surviving relative is his sister, who was eleven years old when her brother died, and will bury him at Arlington National Cemetary, with full military honors.
May God grant Ensign Tills eternal rest, and may the nation for which he gave his life always rmember his sacrifice.