FRANKLIN R. HOOKS II, CAPT, USMC
Franklin Hooks II '97
Date of birth: June 7, 1972
Date of death: June 27, 2004
From the St. Petersburg Times on June 29, 2004:
DADE CITY - He was a "supernatural kid" who dreamed of being a pilot.
And the dream came true.
Just after Franklin R. Hooks II graduated from Pasco High School in 1990, he enlisted in the Navy. Over the years he ascended steadily through the military ranks, finally becoming a Marine Corps captain.
He was doing what he loved - flying an F/A-18C Hornet aircraft from USS Harry S. Truman in the Atlantic - when an accident occurred Saturday night, the Marine Corps reported.
Authorities announced Monday that search and recovery efforts, which covered more than 250 square miles of water, had been unsuccessful.
Hooks, 32, was pronounced dead.
The jet's wreckage turned up Sunday in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, about 60 miles south of the Azores, a group of nine islands belonging to Portugal.
On Monday, the Navy continued to investigate the accident, which it described as a "mishap."
The Truman had been operating a two-month training exercise in preparation for a six-month deployment scheduled to begin in the fall.
Hooks' jet was part of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, known as the "Silver Eagles," said Marine Capt. Donald A. Caetano, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Air Station at Beaufort, S.C., where the squadron was stationed.
"They're going to memorialize him and take time to mourn and grieve," Caetano said. "But they're going to continue on, because he (Hooks) would want that."
According to a biography compiled by the squadron, Hooks started off as an electronics technician when he joined the Navy in 1990. Then he was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1997.
Afterward he became a Marine, completing training in Quantico, Va., Pensacola, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Meridian, Miss. Advanced training in Kingsville, Texas, earned him his naval aviator wings in September 2000, and further training in Oceana, Va., made him qualified to fly a Hornet, a single-seat, all-weather attack aircraft.
He had been stationed at Beaufort since December 2001. From December 2002 to May 2003, he flew combat missions with the "Silver Eagles," stationed aboard the Truman in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Hooks enjoyed all sports, playing his guitar and, of course, flying planes, Caetano said.
"A lot of people live their lives and never find a calling in life," Caetano said. "He was fortunate to be someone who did find his calling."
Hooks had a wife, Cindy, but no children. His wife and family could not be reached for comment Monday.
A memorial service was scheduled for today aboard the Truman, but no local plans had been announced Monday evening.
Willie Harrelson, 76, lives across the street from the house where he said Hooks' grandparents raised him.
"He was just supernatural," Harrelson said. "You could search the world over, and you wouldn't find anybody better than Frankie Hooks."
Hooks was a talented Little League baseball player, Harrelson said. Growing up, Hooks often came by to tell Harrelson, an avid hunter, about hunting escapades with his grandfather.
"They'd go to Green Swamp and hunt," Harrelson recalled Monday as he rocked on a wooden swing outside his home.
Hooks never lost that athleticism, Harrelson said. He'd see the young man stretching after a five-mile run or driving golf balls into a nearby field when he was home on leave.
Hooks always stopped in to check on Harrelson when he was in town and shook Harrelson's hand before departing again.
"The last day he was here, he said, "I'm going out on a boat,"' Harrelson said. "And he said, "I'll be back."'