In Memoriam, (Lest We Forget): Memorial Day Weekend 2013

Ens. William Harold Tucker USN

My only Uncle: William Harold Tucker, went to war in 1942 after graduating from John Marshall High School in Hollywood.  He kept a daily diary throughout High School and for two years after up until his enlistment in the U.S. Navy.  Upon enlisting he wrote home every day; one to eight page letters describing his training and experiences in flying.  For a year and a half he went through training, graduating from Corpus Christy TX and receiving his commission to fly a Lockheed Hudson and be stationed out of Ft. Lauderdale FL.  As a solo pilot in command of this medium bomber his job was to take up to eight service personnel from various branches of the military, up in his plane. They would spot shipping off the coast, and let them practice with the new invention of radar.


Wednesday afternoon Feb. 3, 1944 at 2:15 pm, while flying seven miles off the coast of Miami, at an altitude of 3500 feet the plane lost an engine.  With the nine men on board and the heavy radar equipment the plane was overloaded by approximately 2600 lbs. It went into a flat spin. 


Many of the servicemen on board had never flown before this flight.

My Uncle, being a top notch pilot was able to pull the plane out of the spin and according to witnesses leveled off at an altitude of ten feet above the water. 

In the Lockheed Hudson the only door is in the rear of the plane.  Investigators surmise the personnel on board panicked and rushed for the door making the plane tail heavy, causing the ship to hit the water tail first, and it sunk like a stone, into seven hundred feet of water.

The search went on for two days, and no debris, or bodies were ever recovered.

William Harold Tucker was two months away from his 21st birthday.  He was one of 138 kids lost during WWII from John Marshall High School, a school which lost more students in the war than any High School in Southern California.

In 1987, forty three years after the accident, I traveled to New York and Boston with my teacher from Art Center, Dan McCaw.  While visiting, I went to the Atlantic Memorial in Battery Park and searched for Bill’s name. It was not there.  I contacted the right individuals in the Government;  sent them all the info I had on Bill Tucker, and after a period of four years I was contacted Battlefields Commission saying his name had been listed on the memorial (along with the 11,500+ Americans who lost their lives in the coastal waters of the Atlantic in WWII.

While visiting the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery in Soho, where I would eventually have my first Solo Show in New York, I found the name of my Uncle inscribed in the Memorial.  Now things feel complete!