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.
(DE-742: dp. 1,240; l. 306'; b. 36'7" ; dr. 11'8" ; s. 21 k.: cpl. 216; a. 3 3", 2 40mm., 10 20mm., 3 2" tt., 2 dct, 9 dcp.; cl. Cannon)
Hilbert (DE-742) was launched 18 July 1943 by Western Pipe & Steel Co.; sponsored by Mrs. Fern Hilbert Wier, sister of Aviation Ordnanceman Hilbert; and commissioned 4 February 1944, Commander J. W. Golinkin, USNK, in command.
After shakedown out of California Hilbert departed San Francisco 13 May 1944 escorting a transport. Arriving Pearl Harbor 20 May, she proceeded to Kwajalein and joined the 5th Fleet. From June through August Hilbert screened the fueling group of Admiral R. K. Turner's Northern Attack Force for the capture of Saipan and Tinian. The Marianas 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 Admiral Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force engaged in the Battle of the Philippine Sea—one of the most decisive battles of the war.
In October Hilbert joined Admiral Halsey's 3d 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.
Hilbert, with other units of the 3d Fleet, anchored for the first time in Japanese waters at Sagami Wan 9 September 1945. Departing Tokyo 29 September Hilbert sailed to Philadelphia via Los Angeles and the Canal Zone, and thence to Green Cove Springs, Fla., arriving 17 December. She decommissioned 19 June 1946 and joined the Reserve Fleet. In February 1952 Hilbert joined the Reserve Fleet at Philadelphia where she now remains.
Hilbert received eight battle stars for World War II service.