The Mystery of the Hornet

Flour Bluff, Front Page

 

     I have long heard that the Flour Bluff Hornets took the name of their mascot from  the USS Hornet, the carrier associated with Lt. Commander John Charles Waldron, for whom Waldron Road in Flour Bluff was named.  However, this does not seem possible according to the historical documentation from a January 11, 1938, Corpus Christi Times news article about the Flour Bluff Hornets and various other sources.

     According to the USS Hornet Sea, Air & Space Museum website, the following timeline describes the birth of the carrier:

  • Identified initially as Hull #385, USS HornetCV-8, she was built at the Newport News shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia, starting in September of 1939.
  • The Hornetwas launched in December 1940 by Mrs. Frank Knox, wife of the Secretary of the Navy.
  • On October 20, 1941, the Hornetwas commissioned.  Her commanding officer was Captain Marc “Pete” Mitscher, who would become a recognized master of carrier warfare during WWII.

     The Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 317 (August 1943), offers this information concerning the connection between Lt. Cdr. Waldron and the Hornet:

     The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Commander John Charles Waldron (NSN: 0-58825), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Torpedo Plane and Commanding Officer of Torpedo Squadron EIGHT (VT-8), attached to the U.S.S. HORNET (CV-8), during the “Air Battle of Midway,” against enemy Japanese forces on 4 June 1942. Grimly aware of the hazardous consequences of flying without fighter protection, and with insufficient fuel to return to his carrier, Lieutenant Commander Waldron resolutely, and with no thought of his own life, led his squadron in an effective torpedo attack against violent assaults of enemy Japanese aircraft fire. His courageous action, carried out with a gallant spirit of self-sacrifice and a conscientious devotion to the fulfillment of his mission, was a determining factor in the defeat of the enemy forces and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

     So, where did we get our name?  In one Flour Bluff School newspaper prior to 1938 the Sandburs is the name of the mascot.  Any and all documented information would be appreciated to solve the mystery of how the Flour Bluff Hornets really got their name.

UPDATE:  The Flour Bluff school newspaper, The Grassburr, reported in its first edition published on November 4, 1937:  “Another first for Flour Bluff High School.  After much deliberation, students selected the HORNETS to be the name of their athletic teams, which will be under the leadership of Coach Sam Chandler.”  The reason for choosing the name is not given, and no mention of the Hornet can be found in the handwritten school board meeting minutes from 1937 or 1938.  Coach Sam Chandler is mentioned and his salary given at $1500 per year.

Miles Graham, lifetime resident, said that he recalls W.R. Duncan, member of a founding family, telling the story of how the Hornets got their name.  He was watching a basketball game in 1937 and said that the boys looked like a bunch of hornets swarming around the player with the ball.  That suggestion, Graham believes, stuck with the kids, and they chose the hornet as their official team mascot, which was chronicled in The Grassburr.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
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