Bob Hilinski entered the US Navy in July 1943. He served in the engine room aboard an amphibious landing craft and participated in the Normandy invasion; landing at Omaha Beach. After leaving the Navy in 1945, he was called back to duty to serve in Korea. Before traveling overseas, he helped commission the USS Bryce Canyon (AD-36) in 1950. Bob ended up spending a total of 31 years in the Navy.
Bob Hilinksi came to most of the Veterans Breakfast Club events; he was one of the WW II regulars, sharing stories with other old veterans and Normandy survivors.
After 31 years in the Navy, he had a lot of adventures to talk about, and we eagerly looked forward to the chance to formally sit down with Bob to record his story. But the timing was just one of those things . . . ok, sure, next time. Perhaps next time. Certainly the next time we were recording veterans in the area Bob could stop by and share his story–in his own words.
Finally in 2013 we made the deal. This would be the year, perhaps the month, that Bob would finally sit down with us. Alas, as Shakespeare said, “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves,” and we again failed to meet with Bob–for the final time.
He passed away in June 2013.
Although the interview questions we prepared for Bob go silent, our gratitude does not. As long as we continue to tell the stories of his generation–the greatest generation–his story will be told. The story of every young sailor who has taken to the high seas in defense of our nation will be his story.
On June 30, 2013, Bob Hilinski, age 87, of Shaler Twp., beloved husband of Louise Hensch; loving father of Michael Hilinski (Linda), Roberta Sterling (Don), Matthew Hilinski (the late Ruth), and Robert Hilinski, Jr. (Cheryl); grandfather to ten grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren; brother of Eugene Hilinski and the late Joseph, Stanley, Ray, and George Hilinski.
Robert was a veteran of WWII in the Korean War and was a member of VFW Etna-Shaler Post 9197. He was also a volunteer firefighter for Sharps Hill Volunteer Fire Department. Friends received at WORRELL FUNERAL HOME, INC., 820 Main St., Sharpsburg, 15215. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Juan Diego Parish in St. John Cantius Church.
Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from July 1 to July 2, 2013