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Wilton "Hoot" Hutt

Wilton "Hoot" Hutt

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Wilton "Hoot" Hutt was a Naval Aviator that hailed from Norwood, Colorodo. He was first an enlisted man like myself and was qualified and selected for Pilot's training through a different program than the one I used. However, he too, received carrier, fighter training and joined Butch O'Hare's fighter squadron in San Diego in the spring of 1943.

We trained with "Butch" O'Hare and were carrier qualified on the USS Altamaha CVE-18 off the coast of California with the rest of the squadron.

(See NavSource Online for more information on the ALTAMAHA)

After being deployed to Puunene, Maui for further training, we were organized in different divisions or fighter teams. However, later, during our first combat tour, we managed to be in the same division and then when on the USS Intrepid CV-11, we were both room-mates and teammates from January through March 1944.

During the invasion of the Marshall Islands, we helped soften up Kwajalein Atoll and then provided support for the Marine landing force there.

During the first raid on Truk Atoll, our team escorted a flight of torpedo-bombers on a strike and got involved in a dog fight with some enemy fighters that came out to intercept us. We each shot down a Jap plane in the dog fight; did some strafing of the airfield on Moen Island and then managed to escort most of our bombers back to the ship without a scratch.

Later that night we got slammed around a bit when a Jap torpedo bomber (Kate) put an exploding "fish" into the rudder of the Intrepid and forced us out of action with the battle group a day early.

As our wounded Intrepid headed eastward into the wind, it had some steering problems with its non-functioning rudder. To help the situation, "Hoot" and I and several other VF-6 pilots like Cliff Seaver, Cherry Klingler, George Rodgers, Jock Odenbrett, Bob Hobbs, Al Fairbanks, Bob Merritt and others helped the ship's First Lieutenant construct and erect a sail on the forward part of the flight deck. It was made of canvas or sail-cloth and was held up by steel palisades fastened to the flight deck. It has been said that this was the last time a major Navy ship operated with a sail in modern day history.

A day or two before arriving at Pearl Harbor, the ship was slowed down long enough for the crew to conduct a "Crossing the line" ceremony during which all "Pollywog" or uninitiated equator-crossers were properly initiated by King Neptune, Davy Jones and his crew of "Shell-backs" or those who had already been initiated. During the ceremony, "Hoot" and I were both brought before King Neptune's court on trumped-up charges and were found guilty for which we paid an unspeakable price.

Rudder Damage on USS Intripid CV-11 being repaired at Pearl

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A day or two later we flew into Ford Island, in Pearl Harbor, turned in our airplanes into a FASRON and embarked on the USS White Plains CVE-55, which was waiting to take our whole fighter squadron back to San Francisco..

It should be added that the Pilots and crew from the Torpedo and Dive bomber squadrons were embarked on an old Army Transport for their trip back to San Francisco. We learned that living conditions were not very plush.

We passed under Golden Gate Bridge on March 6, 1944 thus ending our first cruise in VF-6. Some of the squadron pilots were kept in the squadron while other young guys like "Hoot" were to be re-assigned to another fighter squadron while some of the older pilots were sent to shore duty for a well-earned breather.

Hoot" and I parted ways with leave orders in hand on about 8 March and then we lost contact with each other until we learned that on May 11, 1945, his ship, the USS Bunker Hill (CV-17) had been hit hard amidships and that many pilots did not survive. I mourned more than a little bit until (while we on the Hancock were getting repaired in Pearl Harbor, June '45) the Bunker Hill came through "Pearl" on its way back to Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard for repairs. It was there that I discovered that "Hoot" had been one of the surviving pilots. That was a great day for me.

A number of years later when our family was on a camping/fishing trip in western Colorado, I tried to contact "Hoot" at his home in Norwood, CO. I was told by their small town telephone operator that "Hoot" had recently had a fatal accident when a lawn mower had contacted some electrical wire and a hunk of metal had been imbedded in his chest. The report was that "Hoot" did not survive. Again, I went through a terrible period of mourning for my old buddy and squadron-mate.

Sometime later I received the message from another squadron mate, "No! "Hoot" was not dead," he argued.. "It was his father," who also was known locally as, "Hoot", the same as his Navy Pilot son, in the city of Norwood, CO."

We managed to get together again in about 1998, when I met "Hoot" and his lovely "Aussie" bride, Wilda in their Everett, Washington home on Hat Island, which is near Everett, where he had been elected Mayor of the community.

Since then, we have kept in touch and attended several squadron Reunions together.

VF-6 Reunions

It is still a great feeling to have an old buddy to commiserate and "jovialate" with as we remember our good ol' days in The Navy.

Thanks "Hoot", It has been great having a good friend and squadron mate like you. You have certainly enriched my life many times over in addition to saving my life at least once at Truk. I certainly could not have made it without you!!!

With great respect !!

Photo Op

This part of VF-6 was attached to VF-25 on the USS Cowpens (CVL-25). The carrier task force was enroute to attack the Enemy on Wake Island scheduled for 5 & 6 Oct 1943.

VF-6 in USS Cowpens CVl-25
October 5-6, 1943

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VF-6 in USS Cowpens (CVL-25) - One flight (12 planes) of VF-6, Led by George Bullard, was assigned temporarily to the U.S.S. Cowpens during the fall of `43 and became a part of Air Group Twenty-five.

Back Row (L-R): John Ogg, Johnny Johnston, Wilton "Hoot" Hutt, Al Fairbanks, "Hersch" Pahl, Foster "Crud" Blair, James Nichols, and "Pick" Butler. (non pilot) Front row (L-R): Cifford N. Seaver, Malcomb "Bud" Loesch, Cy Chambers, George C. "Bull" Bullard, Bobby Neel, Tom Kerr, George Rodgers.

Hersch Pahl on the left and Wilton "Hoot" Hutt on the right

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n 9 Dec 1943, VF-6 fighter pilots departed the USS Cowpens ending 29 days at sea participating in the Gilbert Islands operation, and flew to Kaneohe on Oahu.

Christmas, 1943, the squadron met with our dear friends, Frank and Ethal Hoogs, at Wailiku, Maui for Christmas Dinner, at which time we joined the Hoogs family and others, in memorializing our late skipper. "Butch" O'Hare.

He later participated in the 21 plane Memorial Flight of Hellcats back to Barber's Point on December 26, 1943.

We pilots were given a few days rest during which we lived in quarters at Kaneohe where we did our own cooking and got caught up on physical fitness and relaxation. Hersch Pahl on the left and Wilton "Hoot" Hutt on the right.

VF-6, Bullard's Flight 2/9/44 on U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11) at Majuro Atoll

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There was a "photo-op on February 9, 1944 for Air Group Six aboard Intrepid (CV-11) while she was anchored at Majuro Atoll. The carrier strike force was preparing to make the first carrier raid on the enemy stronghold at Truk Atoll. VF-6 had their photos taken by flight (see the Three divisions). The above photo is of George Bullard's flight. Wilton "Hoot" Hutt (front -right) is setting next to Hersch Pahl , who was being tormented by Joe Robbins behind him at the time the photo was taken.

1st row L-R:- Cliff Seaver, Dany Lamb, Hersch Pahl, and Hoot Hutt.
2nd row L-R:- Al Fairbacks, Joe Robbins, Al Vraciu, and Gordon Little.
3rd row L-R:- Jim Nichols, Pick Butler, Tom Kerr, George Bulllard, Cy Chambers, and Moinahan. At that time Seaver, Lamb, Pahl and Hoot Hutt were teamed up and flying together in the same division.

- Hersch Pahl

Wilton "Hoot" Hutt - 2010
Hoot enjoyed an earthly sojourn of
87 Years, 4 Months and 10 Days

April 25, 2010 marked a very sad day for me, as I got a call from Grace Hutt, Hoot's wife, notifying me of his passing.

Obituary from HeraldNet.com

Published in The Herald (Everett. Washington) from May 16 to May 21, 2010

Wilton Herndon Hutt, called Will or Hoot by his friends, died on April 25, 2010. He was born to Wilton and Nina Hutt on December 15, 1922 in Norwood, CO.

He served as a Navy Fighter Pilot during World War II flying off carriers in the Pacific Theater, and then in peacetime became a reserve officer retiring at the rank of Captain.

He spent 27 years employed by the Boeing Company as a building facilitator and retired from the Boeing company in 1985.

Will is survived by his wife, Grace; daughters, Melinda and Nancy; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A Memorial service will be held at 10:30 p.m., on May 22, 2010 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2301 Hoyt Ave, Everett, WA. Interment to be at 10:00 a.m., Tahoma National Cemetery, 18600 SE 240th St., Kent, WA on May 24, 2010.

He was a beloved husband and friend.

"Roger all the way" old friend!

- Hersch Pahl

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