Valor Off Samar – Sidebar: September ’98 World War II Feature

8/19/1998 • World War II

Huxtable earned the respect and admiration of his subordinates.

One of Ed Huxtable’s two sisters, Martha H. Vickers, attended the 1986 dedication of a plaque honoring the courageous squadron leader on board USS Yorktown. Members of Squadron VC-10 came to her and related their special memories of her brother, their skipper.

“On one of our bombing drills, I made a perfect score,” one man told her. “After landing on the ship, Skipper took me aside and asked what I had done–was there something I had found to make my hits so accurate? Well, I was just a young ensign and here was my commanding officer asking me what skill I had used so he could improve his technique. I never forgot that humble quality he had.

“Then later, after we had just lost a plane overboard while it was trying to land on ship, I ran so close to the edge of the ship that I could see the water below. It scared the hell out of me.

“I approached the Skipper and asked him to show me how he made such perfect landings. He said, ‘Well, when you are this distance from the ship you pull up and then you gun it.’ And he went through his procedure. I made perfect landings every time after that. He had the patience and knack to teach me.”

Another man told her, “I was just a member of the crew, not an officer, and I was the youngest in the squadron. I was 17. I want to tell you about a very special incident that I never forgot. We had just had a meeting with the Skipper on the flight deck and had been dismissed. We were to go down to the hangar deck. When we got to the ladder we waited, as it was navy rules for the ranking officer to go first. But the Skipper stood at the top of that ladder and signaled us down the ladder one by one–every one of us with lower rank.

“When we were below and he started down the ladder last, it was without a word said or a signal made. We just fell into line on both sides of that ladder and saluted him as he came down and through our lines. I looked up and saw the ship’s commander (who wasn’t well-liked) looking down on this spontaneous burst of respect. I know from the look on his face that he’d have given anything to receive such a gesture from his men.

“We all thought so much of your brother. He was a fine man and he treated us as individuals and with respect. I was only 17 then, but I never forgot how a man, a superior officer, can be respected and loved by his subordinates.”[ TOP ] [ Cover ]