William G. Hawke
I went into the Navy in May of 1939. Went to boot camp at Great Lakes, after boot camp was sent to New York where I put the Helena (CL-50) in commission. I stayed with the ship until about 4 months before she was sunk.
AMM1 "V" Division
USS Helena CL-50 September 1939 - May 1943
I received my orders for flight school. After school I was sent to Washington, D.C. where I spent the rest of the war.
I transferred to the reserves at the Naval Air Station, Glenview, ILL., where I spent fourteen years as a weekender.
Your author and his wife Gerry met Bill and his wife Betty at the 1991 Helena Reunion, held in Nashville, TN. We became instant friends.
Betty insisted that we should accompany them in attending most of the reunion tours, which we did. Betty was aggressive in planning our time. Doubt Gerry and I would have done some of the tours, but after all these years, I am glad we did.
We have lost track of Bill and Betty and they are no longer listed in the Helena Muster Book. If any one can provide us with an update, we would be thankful.
In Bill's last letter to us, he wrote more about his duty on the Helena. Read below the line.
The name of the planes we had were called Seagulls or SOC's. We carried 4 planes. Our side numbers were 9-13 to 9-16.I had No. 13 the skipped plane. The first one I had crashed. We lost a new pilot in that one. I changed the side No to 13 1/2. It stayed that way till we fought our first sea battle. My plane was on the catapult so over the side it went, with my chute and flight gear. The new plane I numbered 13 3/4. It was still aboard when I left the ship. I used to fly off the ship about 3 or 4 times a week.
This is a picture of the type aircraft Bill flew. It is a SOC-3 with markings from the USS Phoenix and was flown byLt.(jg) Marion J. Reed.