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|35k||Thomas Mack Wilhoite was born on 12 February 1921 in Guthrie, Ky. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve on 16 June 1941 at Atlanta, Ga., and received his aviation indoctrination
training at the Naval Reserve Air Base, Atlanta, Ga. On 07 August, he reported for flight instruction at the Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Fla., and was appointed an aviation cadet
the following day. Transferred to NAS, Miami, Fla., on 15 January 1942 for further training, he became a naval aviator on 06 February. Three days later, he was commissioned an ensign and,
at the end of February, reported to the Advanced Carrier Training Group, Atlantic Fleet, NAS, Norfolk, Va. There, he joined Fighting Squadron (VF) 9, then fitting out and, in time, became
the assistant navigation officer for that squadron.
Operation "Torch," the invasion of French North Africa, saw VF-9 assigned to the carrier Ranger (CV 4). Each section of the squadron drew assigned tasks on 08 November 1942, the first day of the landings; and Wilhoite flew one of five Grumman F4F-4 Wildcats which attacked the French airdrome at Rabat-Sale, the headquarters of the French air forces in Morocco. Despite heavy antiaircraft fire, he pressed home a determined attack and set three French bombers afire with his guns. In a second strike directed at the Port Lyautey airdrome later that day, Wilhoite flew as part of the third flight and destroyed one fighter, a Dewoitine 520, by stafing. However, the Vichy ground gunners served their weapons well; and Wilhoite's Wildcat took hits from the intense flak and crashed about one mile from Port Lyautey.
Wilhoite received a Silver Star, posthumously, for displaying "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" during the strikes at Rabat-Sale and Port Lyautey. The accompanying citation also cited Wilhoite's "superb airmanship and tenacious devotion to duty" in pressing home his stafing attacks. Although he was killed in action, Wilhoite had played his part in the significant operations of VF-9 in neutralizing Vichy French air power that, if unhindered, could have severely hampered Operation "Torch.".
USS Wilhoite (DE 397) (1943-1969) was the first ship to be named in his honor.
(Photo from the USS Wilhoite Association Website)
|493k||undated wartime image
("In memory of Robert J. Smith, SK2, USNR").
|123k||07 November 1959: Pearl Harbor Naval Station - Lcdr R.D. McCrary (left) is relieved as CO by Lcdr C.H. Willis aboard Wilhoite.||Ron Reeves|
|35k||undated postwar photo
(Official U.S. Navy Photo; from "Jane's Fighting Ships, 1958-59")
England, United Kingdom
|243k||pre-1961: San Diego, Cal. - Wilhoite heads out to sea from San Diego Harbor. Note, mount 31 forward is still uncovered.||Nick Tiberio|
|169k||January 1961: Sydney, Australia||Pete Schonenberg,|
Commander, USN (ret.)
XO - Navigator 1960 - 1961
via Bob Hall
|123k||-- July 1961: Pearl Harbor Naval Station - Lcdr Charles H. Willis (seated) is relieved as CO by Lcdr Robert L. Thorsen aboard Wilhoite.||Ron Reeves|
|76k||12 February 1966: Pearl Harbor, Hi.
(Photo © Richard Leonhardt)
|38k||date / location unknown||Bob Hurst|
England, United Kingdom
|610k||date / location unknown
(Official U.S. Navy Photo; from the "1969 Wilhoite WestPac Cruise Book")
|546k||undated: A port bow view of the radar picket escort ship USS Wilhoite (DER 397 underway off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #L45-307.03.01 from the Naval Subjects Collection at the Naval History and Heritage Command)
South East Asia
|Change of Command
|View the USS Wilhoite (DE 397) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
|View the official War History of USS Wilhoite as submitted by the ship at war's end.|
|Wilhoite's Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves
|Dates of Command||Commanding Officers|
|1.) 16 Dec. 1943 - 17 Dec. 1944||Lt. Eli Baer Roth, USN (Comm. CO)|
|2.) 17 Dec. 1944 - 07 Mar. 1945||Lcdr. Robert W. Whalen, USNR|
|3.) 07 Mar. 1945 - 06 Dec. 1945||Lcdr. Robertson C. Moore, USNR|
|4.) 06 Dec. 1945 - 25 Jan. 1946||Lt. Charles Horch, USNR|
|5.) 25 Jan. 1946 - 19 Jun. 1946||Lcdr. Jack Edward Kennedy, USNR (Decomm. CO) (Water Valley, Miss.)|
|6.) 29 Jan. 1955 - .. .... 1956||Cmdr Lambert (Larry) Vernon Forde (Recomm. CO) (USNA '41) (Hillsboro, N.D.)|
|7.) .. .... 1956 - .. Jan 1958||Lcdr. Daniel I. Rienstra, Jr. (USNA ‘44) (Nederland, Tex.)|
|8.) .. Jan.1958 - 07 Nov. 1959||Lcdr. Robert Davison McCrary (Lakewood, N.J.)|
|9.) 07 Nov. 1959 - Jul. 1961||Lcdr. Charles H. Willis|
|10.) .. Jul. 1961 - .. Apr. 1962||Lcdr. Robert Leroy Thorsen|
|11.) .. Apr. 1962 - .. .... 1964||Lcdr. Frank Comstock Mead|
|12.) .. .... 1965 - 02 Dec. 1966||Cmdr. James Edwin Fernandes (prior enl.) (Tiverton, R.I.)|
|13.) 02 Dec.1966 - 31 Dec. 1967||Lcdr. Estel Will Hayes (USNA '53) (Giltner, Nebr.)|
|14.) 31 Dec. 1967 - 02 Jul. 1969||Lcdr. David Hamlin Griffin (Decomm. CO) (New York, N.Y.)|
Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has been
made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list only
a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists or rosters available. Please see the Frequently Asked
Questions section on Navsource's Main Page for that information.
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Page Last Updated: 19 May 2020