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|10k||Jack Winton Wilke was born in Covina, Calif. on 13 June 1919, the son of Joseph Henry Wilke and Helen Dorothy Fischer. Jack enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve aviation
candidate program (V-5) as a Seaman 2/c (NSN:413 22 92) on 13 January 1941 in Long Beach, Cal. He reported to Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Long Beach, Cal. for Elimination Flight training.
He successfully completed that training on 17 January 1941 and was transferred to NAS, Corpus Christi, Tex. He became an aviation cadet on 15 March 1941. After successfully completing Primary,
Intermediate and Advanced Squadron training he was designated a naval aviator and, he was commissioned an Ensign on 30 August 1941.
On 08 December 1941 Ens. Wilke reported as a passenger to USS Harris (AP 8) in San Diego. He was transported from San Diego to Pearl Harbor under orders to report to Patrol Squadron Twenty-Four (PATRON-24). In late May 1942, while attached to VP-24, Ens. Wilke volunteered to provide pathfinder (navigation) services for a USS Hornet (CV 8) based Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8) detachment of six new TBF-1 aircraft flown from Hawaii to NAS Midway on 01 June 1942 to augment the island's defenses. It was a flight of 1200 miles across open ocean.
In the early morning hours of 04 June he again volunteered to perform navigation and radioman/bombardier duties for this same detachment of VT-8 as it flew into battle against the numerically superior Japanese forces. First to attack the Japanese Striking Force carriers and without friendly fighter support the torpedo planes were overwhelmed by Japanese fighters. However, they pressed forward in the face of withering fire. Five of the six planes did not return to Midway. Ens. Wilke, Lt. Langdon Fieberling (pilot) and their radioman/gunner, RM2 Raymond Osborn were killed in action. Their remains were unrecoverable. All the flyers but one, Ens. George H. Gay, of this gallant squadron were lost; but their attack had diverted Japanese fighters from dive bombing attacks which might have prevented the eventual U.S. Navy victory. Ens. Wilke received the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism. His other awards include the Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation, American Defense Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one battle star, and the World War II Victory Medal
USS Jack W. Wilke (DE 800) (1944-1960) was the first ship to be named in his honor.
(Photo from the web site Find A Grave)
Commander, USN (ret.)
|60k||circa 1950: Key West, Fla. - USS Jack W. Wilke (DE 800) at the pier in Key West.
(Photo #MM00008483x from the Key West Art and Historical Society Collection, courtesy of the Florida Keys Public Libraries)
England, United Kingdom
|71k||20 June 1952: as trials ship for the Operational Development Force|
|269k||1955: Key West, Fla. - USS Jack W. Wilke (DE 800) moored to a pier at the Key West Naval Station in Florida. During the 1950's, the ship operated as a
trials ship for the Operational Development Force.
(U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #L45-142.04.02 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
Port Angeles, Wash.
|43k||February 1960: Key West, Florida||Fred Weiss|
|104k||undated post-war image||Nick Tiberio|
|136k||undated post-war image||Bob Hurst|
England, United Kingdom
|171k||undated post-war image||Tim Rizzuto|
USS Slater Memorial
|Jack W. Wilke History|
|View the USS Jack W. Wilke (DE 800) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.|
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