Mapping a Sailor’s Service
Posted on December 17, 2014
By Caroline Sibley, Archivist | Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Mr. Kagel Smith, looking through his mother’s attic, stumbled upon an old suitcase filled with the photographs and documents of a Mr. Lyman Hoskins. His mother’s ex-husband, it was clear that Mr. Hoskins had served in WWII, but Mr. Smith couldn’t piece together the story. He donated the collection to Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in December 2013. After sorting, organizing, and supplementing the documentation and photographs with independent research, we were able to construct the history of Lyman William Hoskins Jr.’s service in the U. S. Navy during WWII.
Hoskins enlisted in the Navy in June 1941 and served until 1946. Through his military records, pieces of personal correspondence, Hoskins’ personal flight logs, and a slew of photographs it became clear that he served as a Naval Aviator. Most notably he served as part of a B-24 crew as a NFO (Non-Flight Officer) stationed in the Pacific. His postings took him to Hawaii and Australia, where his photographs illustrate the activities and sightseeing he and his fellow crewmembers partook in between flying missions.
From October 1942 to May 1943 he was assigned to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Enterprise – the only carrier in the Pacific that escaped the attack of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. “Butch” Hoskins was assigned to the VB-115, Squadron 26, were he logged over 1,650 hours of flying and participated in 65 patrols – engaging with Japanese ships and aircraft regularly, and leaving the military with eight service awards for his actions. After his time in the Pacific theatre, which took him to Hawaii, Australia, Guadalcanal, Wake Island, and the Solomon Islands he was transferred to San Diego, California’s Fleet Wing 14.
After his honorable discharge in 1946, Hoskins planned to attend veterinary school and return to the farming lifestyle he had grown up with in Oregon. As far as the records tell, he remained in San Diego driving a Taxi and was a commercial dispatcher for Beacon’s Van and Storage Company. He was terminated from Volunteer Reserve Ordnance Unit 11-3 in January 1950, but remained in the Navy Reserves with a status of V-6. After 1950, our records end, and Hoskins life in peacetime can only be guessed. Independent research, collected from national census and state records, informs us that he was married in 1953, and died in 1990 in his adopted California.
Photo and document collections, which can be confusing, incomplete, or meaningless to many people, provide critical information about the everyday life of soldiers during wartime. Military records can trace individuals across oceans and continents, and photograph collections illustrate the experiences of war and the camaraderie that grew between service members.
Do you have a story of a service member you’d like to share? Leave it in the comments section below!