Missing Pilot Presumed Dead - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Missing Pilot Presumed Dead

Capt. Franklin Hooks II Capt. Franklin Hooks II

Beaufort Marines are mourning 32-year-old Capt. Franklin Hooks II of Dade City, Florida. A pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, Hooks died while flying operations off of the USS Harry S. Truman Saturday night in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

"We all here at the base have a sorrow for Capt. Hooks and his family, especially Mrs. Hooks," said Lt. Col. Ross Roberts.

Capt. Hooks and his fellow Silver Eagles were on the Truman as part of a two-month exercise to prepare for their scheduled deployment in the fall. But Capt. Hooks' mission was cut short. "This is our calling, this is what we love to do," said Lt. Col. Roberts. "I can speak on behalf of Capt. Hooks and the rest of the aviators. This is a calling, it's not just a job."

In the past eight months, five jets at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort have crashed. Three of them have been with VMFA 115.

Capt. Hooks was deployed with the same squadron in December of last year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying combat missions off the Truman and earning him the Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a combat V for valor.

"The guy was a war fighter, he was a combat pilot and he earned that title," said Capt. Don Caetano. "He served in combat. It's just unfortunate we lost him."

Capt. Hooks served 14 years in the military. The Truman's holding a memorial service for him today. They still haven't recovered his body.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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