Son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Huhtala, Robert was in his last year of high school at Roseville Joint Union when, having passed his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps on November 4, 1942 at Sacramento. He was a radio operator on a Flying Fortress out of England when he was reported as missing in action on his sixth bombing mission. Tech/Sgt. Huhtala was awarded the Air Medal posthumously in March 1945. The citation read in part: "for exceptionally meritrious achievement while participating in five separate bomber combat missions over enemy occupied Continental Europe. The courage, coolness and skill displayed by this enlisted man upon these occasions reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
Additional information courtesy of Dwight "Andy" Anderson:
"He was serving as the radio operator on a B-17G which took off from Snetterton Heath with an assigned target of Romilly-sur-Seine airfield in France. It was shot down by fighters, exploding in mid-air with the bomb load. Crashed near Pisseleux, one mile west of Villers-Cotterets, France. It is reported the aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with an FW190, which knocked out the No 2 engine and set wing tanks on fire. It then brushed against and 338th Bomb Squadron aircraft, piloted by Lt Lee Bevers and exploded. 9 KIA 1 POW Six are interred in Epinal."