HT (Bill) Hilliard – USS Eugene PF40
Bill Hilliard. b 1919, Houston TX – d 1994
Attended Choate Prep, then about 2 years at Rice University. After the Pearl Harbor attack he joined the USCG and because he knew how to navigate with a sexton and had sailing experience, became the commanding officer of the USS Eugene PF40, a fighting frigate (after Commander CR MacLean). After the war, he founded Tex-Mex Towing and then Southwestern Barge Fleet Service in Channelview, TX.
I believe he was about 26 when he took command on March 21, 1945 and I understand he was one of the youngest commanders in WWII. Although his actual rank was Lt Commander, he was the commanding officer of this vessel at the end of the war.
I have a full copy of the journal/diary of the operation of the vessel, a sample is here: Two-Ocean-History-2-pages-of-21. The exact title is “Two Ocean History of the USS Eugene, 15 Jan. 1944 – 6 Dec. 1945”.
The Plankowners Certificate seems to be in his handwriting since he had a particular style that I recognize.
Bill Hilliard was an accomplished sailor. He and his father, Harry, sailed a New York 32 model hull sailboat named the Ragamuffin out of the Houston Yacht Club and the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club. They were in many races in Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico to Florida, Tampico MX and other ports.
My father took a number of photos of the men on the Eugene while they were in the South Pacific, which you can view below.
USS Eugene – Domain of the Golden Dragon – June 1944