Edwin William Hurst
Edwin William Hurst was born October 16, 1910 at Falls City, Nebraska.
His family moved to Sioux Falls, SD when he was quite young and had his schooling in that city, He graduated from Sioux Falls High School in 1928 and received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD from which he graduated in 1932. In his First Class (Senior) year he was selected as the commander of the 2nd Company, one of only eight in the then-Regiment of Midshipmen.
After serving in [USS Tennessee (BB-43) for two years, in 1934 he received orders to report to aviation flight training in Pensacola, FL. He earned his wings in 1935 and in that year he married the former Marian Jeannette Harris, also of Sioux Falls. He was then assigned to Scout Bombing Squadron 3 aboard the USS Saratoga (CV-3). He was selected for the Naval Postgraduate School in 1939 and completed its course in Ordnance & Gunnery. In May 1941 he reported to Torpedo Squadron 2 aboard USS Lexington (CV-2) to assume the duties of Squadron Executive Officer
In March 1942, in an attempt to slow or stop the Japanese overland advance on Port Morseby, the Lexington airwing flew from a position south of Port Moresby to attack Japanese shipping and shore installations at Lae and Salamaua on the northern coast of New Guinea. The problem for the Navy bombers that were carrying torpedoes was that the height of the Owen Stanley mountain range which they had to cross was above the ceiling of an SBD "Devastator" when carrying a torpedo. Led by squadron commander LCDR James Brett and LT Hurst, the airplanes flew along the south ridge of the mountains until they encountered an updraft that carried them just over the peaks. The slightest miscalculation could have resulted in most if not all of the SBDs being pushed into the sides of the mountains. Achieving complete surprise, LT Hurst one half of[clarification needed] the squadron as he pressed home a successful torpedo and strafing attack in Lae harbor in the face of heavy antiaircraft fire. The raid severely damaged enemy shipping and installations, and for his actions on the mission, he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.
During the critical Battle of the Coral Sea on May 7 & 8, 1942, on the 7th he daringly attacked the Japanese light carrier "Shoho" and his torpedo contributed to that ship's sinking. The following day his squadron flew against the fleet carriers "Shokaku" and "Zuikaku". He was credited with pressing home an accurate attack through withering antiaircraft fire to deliver his torpedo against the hull of the "Shokaku". Unfortunately, the torpedo malfunctioned and failed to detonate. Nevertheless, in recognition of his skill and gallantry, he was awarded the Navy Cross. Unfortunately, neither award was processed and approved before his death, so both were actually awarded posthumously.
(Edwin K. Hurst II, son & USNA Class of 1962)
Lost in a Plane Crash
With his gallant carrier USS Lexington sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea, Lt. Hurst was sent to New Zealand with half of the VTB-2 survivors while LCDR Brett returned to NAS North Island with the other half. It was intended at that time that the stateside contingent would transition into the new TBF Avenger and then proceed to the South Pacific with them to phase in LT Hurst's detachment. However, before the process had begun he was killed in an aircraft crash on June 9, 1942 near Whemuapai, New Zealand.
(Edwin K. Hurst II, son & USNA Class of 1962)
USS Hurst (DE-250) was named in his honor. The ship, a destroyer escort, was launched by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Texas, April 14, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Jeanette Harris Hurst, widow; and commissioned August 30, 1943, Lt. Comdr. B. H. Brallier commanding.
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- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
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- "Granddaughter Will Christen New Escort". The Cedar Rapids Gazette. 61 (75) (City Final ed.). Cedar Rapids, Iowa: John L. Miller. March 25, 1943. p. 3. Retrieved January 20, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.