USS Hilbert Destroyer Escort (DE742)

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Ernest Lenard Hilbert

Ernest Hilbert was a Aviation Ordnanceman, Third Class, US Navy

Ernest Lenard Hilbert was born at Quinn, South Dakota, 14 June 1920 and was killed in action during enemy attacks on the Marshall, Wake and Marcus Islands 4 June 1942.

Aviation Ordnanceman Hilbert enlisted in the United States Navy as Apprentice Seaman 10 April 1940 at Los Angeles, CA, and was transferred to the Naval Training Station at San Diego. On 10 August 1940, he was advanced to Seaman, Second Class.

In November 1940, he was transferred to Bombing Squadron Six and in May 1941 he was advanced to Aviation Ordnanceman, Third Class.

Aviation Ordnanceman Hilbert was eligible for the American Defense Medal with the Fleet Clasp for service performed prior to 8 December 1941. In recognition of his services as a rear gunner with a bombing squadron during the Battle of Midway, Aviation Ordnanceman Hilbert was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the following citation:

"For heroic achievement in aerial flight as gunner of an airplane of Bombing Squadron Six in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway 4-6 June 1942. During the first of two dive-bombing attacks against enemy Japanese naval forces, Hilbert, by maintaining skillful and continuous fire from his free machine guns, enabled his pilot to escape the devastating enemy fighter attacks. While pursuing the same bold fearless tactics in the second attack he was shot down. His courage and outstanding devotion to duty in these perilous engagements was in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave up his life in the defense of his country."

Ernest Lenard Hilbert was one of SEVEN sons and four daughters of Thomas and Ellen Hilbert. Harold, Donald and Lenard were at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941; Donald was aboard WEST VIRGINIA (BB-48) and later transferred to SARATOGA (CV-3). Another brother, Albert, was also in the Navy and brothers Leo and Tom were in the Army. Brother Arthur was employed at a government arsenal in Denver, CO. One of Ernest's sisters, Fern Hilbert Wier, was a widow, working at Wells Aircraft Company in Los Angeles, CA, when she christened the ship named in honor of her brother. Ellen Hilbert, mother of this patriotic brood, served as Matron of Honor at the christening of USS HILBERT (DE-742).

The pilot of Hilbert's downed plane was Frederick Thomas Weber, for whom DE-675 was named.


 

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