CAPT JAMES "Jim" ROBERT HENDERSON, USN
WWII Torpedo Bomber Pilot, Naval Aviator and Private Pilot
An amazing husband, father and grandfather who loved his family, his home state of North Carolina, his alma mater's football team, the Oklahoma Sooners, the United States Navy and his country.
Born on November 2, 1924 in Gastonia, NC, James Robert Henderson joined the Navy on November 11, 1942, nine days after his 18th birthday. After four years in the Navy, he attended the University of Oklahoma on the GI Bill. Soon after receiving his B.S. degree, he was quickly called back into service.
His 32-year career in the U.S. Navy spanned three wars, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He logged more than 4,500 hours flying in combat missions in the Pacific and Korea, flew in 10 different aircraft and served in torpedo and anti-submarine squadrons on 13 different aircraft carriers. One of his favorite aircraft was the Grumman S-2D/E Tracker, dubbed the "STOOF" by those that flew her. He was proud to be a STOOF pilot and served five tours in the STOOF from maintenance officer to CAG-54.
He served as Landing Signal Officer (LSO) with VS-31, Flag Secretary to the Admiral of Carrier Division 20, Commanding Officer of VS-32, Executive Officer of Command Air Group-54 (CAG-54), Joints Chiefs of Staff Action Officer for the Office of Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon, and Director of Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps for the First Naval District. As Air Group Commander he oversaw all training and operational readiness of three air squadrons, 600 personnel and 50 aircraft.
Although orders took Jim, his wife, Daphne (Jeanette Holmes) and daughters Janet, Judy and Hollie across the U.S., they always returned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, RI, where he and Daphne retired in 1975. Jim continued to enjoy flying in North Kingstown and in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where he and his wife wintered for 25 years. He also took graduate classes at the University of Rhode Island, obtained his realtor's license, and traveled extensively with his artist-wife.
With his family by his side, Jim passed away on Dec. 5, 2010 at his home in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. He is survived by his wife, Daphne, two daughters, Judy Henderson and Janet Schoniger, son-in-law Michael Schoniger and two grandsons, Grant and Eric Schoniger.
Captain Henderson was a founding member of the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation and a 2012 inductee in the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame.
IN THE WORDS OF HIS SQUADRON MATES:
"Jim was the standard by which we junior officers measured what a commanding officer should be. He was our role model then and I still think of him that way now. I remember seeing Jim at RAFS (Real Aviators Flew Stoofs) get together in Jacksonville, probably 15 years ago. He had't seen me in 30 years but when I went up to him to shake his hand, he put his arm around me and gave me a big hug. That's the kind of man he was. I will never forget that."-Tim Walker, VS-32, 1963-1966
"I had the honor of being Jim's co-pilot in 1966 and 1967. On one memorable flight in the North Sea, the starboard engine sounded as if it was grinding a load of rocks. Being the "new guy" I didn't say anything right away. It got so that I couldn't wait any longer and asked if it might be a good idea to full stop and get that engine looked at. Gulp. Single engine passes at the boat I hadn't dealt with. Capt. Henderson said, "It'd be ok." Oh boy! Well, the engine never did quit or burn up: so it was "ok". Capt. Henderson never was concerned."-James Conway
"Jim was a good friend and always looked after me (the junior guy in the squadron) the way a father might. I'm glad I had the chance to tell him how much it meant when we were at the decommissioning in Jacksonville."-LTJG Carl "Pete" Peterson, VS-31
"I greatly admired Jim from the first time I met him upon my arrival to squadron VS-31. It became quickly apparent that he was the "leader" in the squadron--the troops and the officers all looked up to him. In my case, he became my mentor even though I was several years older than he was."-Capt. (Dr.) Dick Martin
"Jim was a LSO as a Lieutenant and checked me out on the "paddles". He was a real professional, a true Aviator's aviator. I will always hold him in the highest esteem."-Frank Boushee
MILITARY PLANES HE FLEW:
AERO Commander U4- 1961-1962
SNB 1958-59, 1962-64
CARRIERS ON WHICH HE SERVED:
USS Ranger CV-4
USS Boxer CV-21
USS Wright CVL-49
USS Siboney CVE-112
USS Palau CVE-122
USS Kula Gulf CVE-108
USS Block Island CVE-106
USS Wasp CV-18
USS Lake Champlain CVE-39
USS Valley Forge CV-45
USS Randolph CV-15
USS Intrepid CV-11
USS Essex CV-9
TRIBUTE MADE POSSIBLE BY:
Mr. Frederick D. Crowe, Jr. of Palm Beach Gardens, FL
Ms. Barbara Ann Eason of New Smyrna Beach, FL
Ms. Judy Henderson of Centennial, CO
Mrs. Daphne Henderson of New Smyrna Beach, FL
Ms. Anne Hoyle of North Kingstown, RI
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Knef of Lakewood, NJ
W. Duke Kimbrell Family Foundation of Charlotte, NC
LTJG Carl D. Peterson, USNR (Ret) of Brookfield, CT
Mr. Dan Ragan of Gastonia, NC
Janet, Mike, Grant and Eric Schoniger of Centennial, CO
Captain's Quarters of New Smyrna Beach, FL
CAPT Herbert A. Zoehrer, USN (Ret) of Coronado, CA
Based on code developed by Richards Consulting Group