From: Dictionary of American Fighting Ships

Jack W. Wilke

Jack Winton Wilke was born in Covina, Calif., 13 June 1919, and enlisted in the Naval Reserve 13 January 1941. After undergoing flight training, he was commissioned Ensign 1 November 1941. Wilke was first assigned to a patrol squadron, but later reported to Torpedo Squadron 8 on board Hornet 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 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. Wilk [sic; Wilke] received the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroism.

(DE - 800: dp. 1,400; l. 306'; b. 36'10"; dr. 9'5"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 186; a. 3 3", 4 1.1", 10 20mm., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (h.h.), 3 21" tt.; cl. Buckley)

Jack W. Wilke (DE-800) was [laid down 18 October 1943,] launched by Consolidated Steel Corp., Orange, Tex., 18 December 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Joe H. Wilke, mother of Ens. Wilke; and commissioned 7 March 1944, Lt. Comdr. R. D. Lowther in command.

After shakedown, Jack W. Wilke spent several months on vital convoy escort duty from American ports to Britain, the Mediterranean, and finally to northern France. In this capacity she helped bring about the enormous buildup which eventually sealed the fate of the Axis. From 5 December 1944 to May 1945, the ship operated with a hunter-killer group in the Newfoundland-Nova Scotia area; and, upon the surrender of Germany, she moved to Norfolk to serve as a weather reporting and air-sea rescue vessel.

Jack W. Wilke sailed 4 June 1945 for Miami and operated as a sonar training ship there until 18 July. In September, she underwent overhaul at New York Navy Yard in preparation for her new role as an experimental antisubmarine ship. Sailing 7 January 1946, Jack W. Wilke commenced operations out of Key West. During the years that followed, she carried out experiments in both tactics and sound equipment off Key West and on occasional cruises to the Caribbean, contributing importantly to the Navy's scientifically advanced, antisubmarine-warfare capability.

The ship's schedule of experimental operations was interrupted on New Year's Day 1959 by the triumph of Castro's forces in Cuba; and Jack W. Wilke steamed to Havana with other ships to help stabilize the situation and to protect American lives and property. During the remainder of the year, she operated off Key West and Norfolk on training operations, and took part in a special good-will cruise to Panama in October during a Caribbean training period. Returning to Key West, the ship decommissioned 24 May 1960 and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. At present she is berthed at Philadelphia.

[Transcriber's note: Stricken from the Navy Register on 1 August 1972, Jack W. Wilke was sold on 1 February 1974.

K. Jack Bauer and Stephen S. Roberts, "Register of Ships of the U. S. Navy, 1775-1990," p.231.]

Transcribed by Yves HUBERT (