How The Hilbert Got Her Name
Aviation Ordnanceman Ernest Lenard Hilbert was born 14 June 1920 at Quinn, S.Dak., and enlisted in the Navy 10 April 1940 at Los Angeles, Calif. In November 1940, he was assigned duty with Bombing Squadron 6 and took part in attacks on the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, and Marcus Island. Hilbert was killed during an aerial attack against enemy forces during the Battle of Midway, 4-6 June 1942.
By maintaining skillful and continuous fire from his free machine guns, Hilbert enabled his pilot to escape the devastating enemy fighter attacks. While pursuing the same bold and fearless tactics in the second attack, he was shot down. Hilbert was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
The keel for USS HILBERT (DE742) was laid 23 March 1943 at Los Angeles, CA; she was launched 18 July 1943 by Western Pipe and Steel Company, San Pedro, CA. The ship was commissioned 4 February 1944 with Commander James Webster Golinkin, USNR, in command. Golinkin was relieved of command 25 August 1944 by Lieutenant Commander John B. Burnham, Executive Officer, who remained in command until he was relieved by Lieutenant Commander James W. Darroch 13 December 1944.
After shakedown out of San Diego, CA, HILBERT departed San Francisco 13 May 1944, escorting a transport. Arriving Pearl Harbor 20 May, she proceeded to Eniwetok and joined Task Force 16. From then on, DE742 operated with Task Forces 30, 38, 50 and 58. From June through August 1944, HILBERT screened the fueling group of Admiral R. K. Turner's Northern Attack Force for the capture of Saipan and Tinian. The Mari-anas were stoutly and bitterly contested, requiring great flexibility and fortitude before our fleet conquered the rugged and well-defended islands.
HILBERT also played a key role in protecting our oilers which fueled Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force engaged in the Battle of the Philippine Sea one of the most decisive battles of WWII.
En route to Seeadler Harbor, Manus Island, 31 August 1944, HILBERT (code name "Daisy Mae") discovered an uncharted shoal at Latitude 01.02 S, Longitude 147.34 E when Fathometer depths sharply decreased to 11 fathoms for approximately five minutes, then increased to 70 fathoms for about five minutes, then jumped to expected 1000-1100 fathoms. The US Hydrographic Office confirmed the discovery of the shoal, named Seamount, about six months later.
In October 1944, HILBERT joined Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet and screened the Logistics Group for the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She also participated in supporting actions in the operations against The Philippines, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Japanese home islands.
The ship successfully rode out the disastrous typhoon which caught the Third Fleet unaware 17-18 December 1944, at the beginning of which the only personnel casualty in HILBERT's history occurred. In attempting to conduct routine operations in heavy seas with USS Blue (DD744), Charles Douglas Smith, Cox, USN, of Butler, KY, was swept overboard and lost. During the typhoon, the wind reached a velocity of 131 mph and, as a result, three destroyers HULL (DD350), MONAGHAN (DD354) and SPENCE (DD512) (the last named assisted in the search for C. D. Smith) capsized and sunk 18 December 1944, with a loss of 778 lives. Officials believe this was one of the most severe typhoons encountered in naval history. Although HILBERT was in the exact center of the typhoon, the ship came through by some trick of fate. The vessel was also caught with other units of the Third Fleet in the typhoon of 5 June 1945. During both typhoons, the ship experienced only minor structural damage.
WWII V-J Day
HILBERT, with other units of the Third Fleet, anchored for the first time in Japanese waters at Sagami Wan 9 September 1945. The following day, she proceeded to Tokyo Bay. After a total of 17 months in the Pacific, she departed Tokyo 2 October, in company with four other ships of Escort Division 32 BANGUST (DE739), WATERMAN (DE740), WEAVER (DE741) and KYNE (DE744) LAMONS (DE743) had departed one day earlier.
After a brief stop at Pearl Harbor to load high point troops returning home for discharge, HILBERT arrived in Los Angeles 20 October, in time to take part in Navy Day celebrations there. HILBERT passed through the Canal Zone on 16 November and arrived in Philadelphia on Thanksgiving Day, 22 November. She then sailed to Green Cove Springs, FL, arriving 17 December.
HILBERT was decommissioned 19 June 1946. In February 1952, she joined the Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia. In October 1973 the ship was scrapped and sold to Boston Metals Company, 313 East Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 for $60,666.66.