Jack W. Wilke
|Jack Winton Wilke|
June 13, 1919|
|Died||June 4, 1942
vicinity of Midway Atoll
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Naval Reserve|
|Years of service||1941–42|
|Unit||Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8)|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Midway|
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.