Jack W. Wilke

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Jack Winton Wilke
Born (1919-06-13)June 13, 1919
Covina, California
Died June 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 22)
vicinity of Midway Atoll
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Naval Reserve
Years of service 1941–42
Rank Ensign
Unit Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)
Battles/wars Battle of Midway
Awards Navy Cross

Jack Winton Wilke was born in Covina, California, 13 June 1919, and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve on 13 January 1941. After undergoing flight training, he was commissioned Ensign on 1 November 1941. Wilke was first assigned to a patrol squadron, but later reported to Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) on board Hornet (CV-8) in the Pacific.

In the pivotal Battle of Midway, 4 and 5 June 1942, he joined his squadron in attacking the Japanese invasion force without air cover, and "pressed home his attack in the face of withering fire from enemy Japanese fighters and antiaircraft batteries." All the planes and all the flyers but one, Ens. George H. Gay, of the 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. Wilk received the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism.

Namesake[edit]

In 1943, the destroyer escort USS Jack W. Wilke (DE-800) was named in honor of Ens. Wilke, sponsored by his mother, Mrs. Joe H. Wilke.

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.