Rank and organization:   Major, U.S. Army Air Corps.
Place and date:   Near
Rabaul, New Britain, 2 November 1943.
Entered service at:   Portsmouth, Va.
Birth:   28 September 1917, Portsmouth, Va.
G.O. No.: 23, 24 March 1944.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of
duty in action with the enemy near Rabaul, New Britain, on 2 November 1943.
Leading his squadron in an attack on shipping in Simpson Harbor, during
which intense antiaircraft fire was expected, Maj. Wilkins briefed his
squadron so that his airplane would be in the position of greatest risk.
His squadron was the last of 3 in the group to enter the target area. Smoke
from bombs dropped by preceding aircraft necessitated a last-second revision
of tactics on his part, which still enabled his squadron to strike vital
shipping targets, but forced it to approach through concentrated fire,
and increased the danger of Maj. Wilkins' left flank position. His airplane
was hit almost immediately, the right wing damaged, and control rendered
extremely difficult. Although he could have withdrawn, he held fast and
led his squadron into the attack. He strafed a group of small harbor vessels,
and then, at low level, attacked an enemy destroyer. His 1,000 pound bomb
struck squarely amidships, causing the vessel to explode. Although antiaircraft
fire from this vessel had seriously damaged his left vertical stabilizer,
he refused to deviate from the course. From below-masthead height he attacked
a transport of some 9,000 tons, scoring a hit which engulfed the ship in
flames. Bombs expended, he began to withdraw his squadron. A heavy cruiser
barred the path. Unhesitatingly, to neutralize the cruiser s guns and attract
its fire, he went in for a strafing run. His damaged stabilizer was completely
shot off. To avoid swerving into his wing planes he had to turn so as to
expose the belly and full wing surfaces of his plane to the enemy fire;
it caught and crumpled his left wing. Now past control, the bomber crashed
into the sea. In the fierce engagement Maj. Wilkins destroyed 2 enemy vessels,
and his heroic self-sacrifice made possible the safe withdrawal of the
remaining planes of his squadron.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)