Grayson County TXGenWeb
 

Military Veterans

Andy William Hankins


Andy William Hankins was born the first day of fall in 1915.  He was the son of James Hankins (buried in Howard/Washington Cemetery near Delaware Bend, Cooke Co., Texas) and Mattie Lelar Heard.  At the age of 4-1/2 Andy, his older brother Ralph and older sister Clessie are living in Precinct 7 of Grayson Co. in the household of his maternal grandparents, Joe C. & Rebecca Heard as well as their 26-year-old uncle.  In 1930 the family had moved to Precinct 6 of Grayson Co.  By 1940 Andy, along with his older brother Ralph and his older sister Clessie, are living in Whitesboro, Grayson Co., Texas with his mother and stepfather, Joseph B. Spencer. 

In 1940 Julia Lee Pilcher, daughter of General Robertson “Bud” Pilcher and Jessie Dee Brown, was living with her older sister & family in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.  It is safe to suggest that Julia Lee and Andy met in Gainesville and were married about a year later.

The Spectacle was a steel hulled Admiral class mine sweeper built for the U.S. Navy during World War II; these ships usually cleared the area of any naval mines before the rest of the fleet arrives, thus clearing the way for the larger vessels.  The Spectacle was commissioned on Friday, the 11th of August 1944. The Muster Roll for the Spectacle (AM-305), stamped August 23, 1944, shows that Andy enlisted at Gainesville, Cooke Co., Texas on Friday, April 23rd, 1943.  A trained crew was on board and practiced with the mine sweeping gear at Seattle, Washington.  At the end of September 1944, the ship then sailed for the West Coast Sonar School at San Pedro, California where they were trained in antisubmarine warfare.  The crew and ship proceeded to  Hawaii on Friday, October 11, 1944 and arrived at Pearl Harbor on November 5, The following week the Spectacle sailed in a convoy, arriving in San Diego on November 20 and leaving again for Hawaiian waters one week later on November 27th.  Family stories from our mother were that Aunt Judy visited Andy while he was in California so it is safe to assume it was during his training in September 1944 or his short visit to San Diego in November 1944.They engaged in training activities in Hawaiian waters from December 7, 1944 through 21 January 1945.

The Spectacle and crew sailed for Iwo Jima in January 1945 as part of the Allied assault force, in the Pacific in order to
clear mines from the Japanese beaches so the Allied forces could invade.  On March 7th, 1945 USS Spectacle sailed for provisions and repairs in the coral reef amongst the Caroline Islands in the west part of the Pacific.  Just twelve days later, USS Spectacle and crew sailed for Okinawa in order to sweep mines from waters near that island in preparation for the upcoming amphibious attack scheduled for April 1, 1945. The fateful day for Andy Hankins dawned on May 25, 1945.  At 0805 USS Spectacle was hit by a diving kamikaze, causing extensive damage and blowing many of the crew overboard.  She dropped anchor to avoid running over the men in the water.  At 0815 USS LSN-135 began picking up survivors but
just 15 minutes later the medium landing ship was also hit by a kamikaze and burst into flames. USS LSM-135 had only been in service eleven months and 25 days.  Spectacle’s losses were 11 KIA, four who died of wounds later, six wounded and 14 MIA.   USS Spectacle arrived in Seattle, Washington on August 1, 1945 and was decommissioned on October 19, 1945.  She was struck from the Navy’s list on December 5, 1945 and sold for scrap in 1947.

The Cornerstone for Peace is a monument in Itoman, commemorating the Battle of Okinawa and the role of Okinawa
during World War II.  The names of over two hundred and forty thousand people who lost their lives are inscribed on the monument, regardless of the country of service, as well as civilians.  The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II.  The 82 day long battle lasted from early April to mid-June 1945.  The battle resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during World War II.  The casualty list included those who were killed, captured or committed of suicide.

The World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Causalities reports lists :
Hankins, Andy William, Seaman 1st class, USNR with his next of kin as wife, Julia Lee Hankins, Rt. 3, c/o G.R. Pilcher, Gainesville.

My mother, the younger sister to Julia Lee Pilcher Hankins said that when the news arrived of Andy’s death, the whole family gathered in the home of sister Lignum Pilcher Tinsley.  When Aunt Judy walked in, she was so excited ‘cause she thought that Andy was there but instead was told of his death.  My aunt never recovered from the loss of her true love
and stayed in contact with his family.



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Elaine Nall Bay
2013