USS Wilhoite DE/DER 397
Our 2016 Reunion will be held in New Orleans, LA September 12-16. A Jazz Cruise and Dinner, World War II Museum and Lunch at the Stage Door Canteen and our banquet on our final evening are among the scheduled events.
Our 2015 Reunion was held in Mobile, AL and attended by 35 shipmates and guests. We toured Mobile with stops at the Richards DAR House, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with it's beautiful stained glass and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Ed's Seafood Shed. After lunch we boarded the Osprey, a large pontoon boat for a delightful tour of the Delta. We toured the Naval Aviation Museum filled with outstanding examples of Naval Aviation from fabric wings to supersonic speeds and had lunch at Qubie's on site. We visited and toured the USS Alabama where we had a memorial service for our fallen shipmates. And many deeds of old were relived during the time spent in our hospitality room at the hotel.
Reminder: The Association Contributions are now due and payable to USS Wilhoite % Frank Roche, 411 Miller Street, Luzerne PA 18709. The suggested contributions are $20.00 and this goes for the quarterly newsletters and the website and other items that needs to be taken care of. These contributions keeps our Association alive and active.
USS Wilhoite (DE/DER 397)
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Thomas Mack Wilhoite—born on 12 February 1921 in Guthrie, Ky.—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 7 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 6 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 8 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 staffing. 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."
(DE-397: dp. 1,200; 1. 306'0"; b. 36'7"; dr. 8'7" (mean); s. 21 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 10 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.) ; cl. Edsall)