Capt Franklin "Puj" Hooks VMFA-115
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  1. #1

    Capt Franklin "Puj" Hooks VMFA-115

    This is my first post here. I was trying to think of a way to introduce myself and I found this forum. Puj was a single seat F/A-18 pilot flying off the USS Harry S Truman. A google search will surely yield more stories about his life. He was a loving husband. His wife is doing as well as can be expected and members of the squadron are fortunate enough to hear from her from time to time. He is dearly missed.

    Release # 0629-04-1329
    Pilot involved in F/A-18A+ Hornet mishap aboard USS Harry S Truman listed as deceased
    June 28, 2004

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- An F/A-18A+ Hornet pilot involved in a mishap Saturday night aboard the USS Harry S. Truman has been listed as deceased.

    Captain Franklin R. Hooks II, 32, of Dade City, Fla., was assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, Marine Aircraft Group 31, which was conducting flight operations off the Truman in the eastern Atlantic Ocean approximately 60 miles south of the Azores. Search and recovery efforts for Captain Hooks were unsuccessful.

    A 14-year veteran of the military, Captain Hooks was married but did not have any children. Having enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1990, he graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1997 and had been stationed here since December 2001. He flew combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of VMFA-115 “Silver Eagles” during their deployment aboard the Truman from December 2002 to May 2003.

    Captain Hooks’ awards and decorations include the Air Medal, a Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a Combat “V” for valor, an Armed Forces Service Medal, an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, a National Defense Service Medal (2 awards), a Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, and Naval Aviator Wings.

    A memorial service for Captain Hooks will be held tomorrow aboard the USS Harry S Truman. Plans for a local memorial service will be announced at a later time.

    The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mishap continues.

    Media interested in speaking with Marine Aircraft Group 31 Executive Officer, Lieutenant Col. Ross Roberts, are asked to be at the main gate visitors’ center at 1:45 p.m. to be escorted to VMFA-115’s hangar. A photo of Captain Hooks is included below. For further questions, please contact Captain Don Caetano at (843) 228-6123.

    Recent article:

    Oxygen loss linked to fatal MCAS jet crash
    Pilot crashed in Atlantic in 2004 training exercise
    Published Wed, Sep 21, 2005

    The Beaufort Gazette
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    The death of a Beaufort Marine pilot who crashed his F/A-18 Hornet into the Atlantic Ocean last year was most likely caused by oxygen deprivation, but the exact reason for the crash may never be known, according to a Marine Corps report completed after the accident.
    Capt. Franklin R. Hooks, 32, was taking part in a training exercise on June 27, 2004, when he crashed south of the Azores, in the eastern Atlantic.

    Hooks, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, The Silver Eagles, had been training off the USS Harry Truman when the crash occurred, according to the Marine report released this month. He had logged the second-most night systems hours within his division.

    Although investigators suspect that a lack of oxygen caused the crash, neither Hooks' body nor the jet were recovered, which makes determining an exact cause impossible, said Mike Barton, a spokesman at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. The Silver Eagles are part of Marine Aircraft Group 31, which is overseen by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, based at Cherry Point.

    "In aircraft accidents, they piece them back together and can determine the smallest details," Barton said. "Whereas in this case, without the aircraft, they can't do that."

    Hooks, who was designated a naval aviator in 2000 and assigned to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in 2001, became confused during the flight, which could have been caused by a lack of oxygen, the report states.

    At one point in the flight, Hooks was unable to join up with the rest of his group, and when asked about his oxygen levels, he gave an unintelligible reply, according to the report.

    When asked if he was experiencing vertigo or needed a descent, Hooks answered that he did not, according to the report.

    "At the time of the flight, neither Captain Hooks nor any other member of the mishap flight recognized the nature or severity of his distress in time to prevent the mishap," the report states. "(Hooks) failed to recognize the deadly consequences of his symptoms before losing the mental clarity to calculate an appropriate course of action or to clearly articulate his problem."

    The report states that Hooks' flight gear and jet were properly maintained and prepared for use before the crash.

    Hooks had an existing illness or cold, which may have contributed to his problems in the air, the report states.

    But Hooks did not "feel strong enough about his condition to remove himself from the flight schedule, an action that he had demonstrated in past circumstances," the report states.

    While no punitive action was taken as a result of the investigation, the report recommended that the squadron's commanding officer review the cockpit navigation flight systems in the jets, as well as cockpit pressurization.

    More training should be given to pilots regarding oxygen deprivation and not flying if they do not feel well, the report states.

    Hooks' crash marked the fourth of five Beaufort-based Hornet crashes from October 2003 to June 2004.

    Just days after Hooks' crash, Canadian Air Force Capt. Derek Nichols was killed when his Hornet crashed while landing at the air station.

    In October 2003, two Hornets with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 collided over the Atlantic.

    In March 2004, a Hornet belonging to Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 82, The Marauders, crashed into the ocean about 43 miles southeast of Beaufort. In both crashes, all three pilots safely ejected. An all-weather fighter and attack aircraft, the average F/A-18 Hornet, costs about $35 million.

  2. #2
    Rest in Peace

    Welcome Sir!


    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

  3. #3
    Welcome aboard Captain.

    Capt Hooks was a gracious host for our reunion in 2003. I'll post pics with my kid, Puj and I on the lex of his static display bird in the hanger at 115. He made (ha ha ha) me monitor folks sitting in the jet for a while, putting the 'ol PC back to work. I think it was actually Nate (Master Guns Monroe) that told him I should be put to work.

    Folks shoud know that he was an AE in the Navy (I'm pretty sure that was his MOS) before he became an 18 driver.

    He coached my kid in the flight sim; actually got her to land a Hornet all by her lonesome. It took 45 minutes of him squatting on the LEX of the sim, I bet he had sore knees.

    Godspeed Puj. We'll have a beer in the 115 ready room again.

  4. #4

    Still loved every second of each day

    I google my husband very often, though most titles still hurt to read...I am very proud of him.

    Two years have passed, yet...he is loved even more than before. Nothing compares to greatest man that ever lived...and for me, Frank was exactly that. A soul mate...the missing piece.

    I miss him with every single cell of my body.

    Forever loved, forever missed.

    CC Hooks

  5. #5

  6. #6


    I've known Frank since we were kids. We competed (although he always won) on grades, sports etc. We were pretty good friends. We more or less joined the Navy together and completed ET (electronics tech) school together during late 1991.

    If anyone would like to talk to me about him about his early years please feel free to contact me at
    I'll type more here later....

    Larry Phillips

  7. #7
    Hello Larry!

    Unfortunately, I didn't get to know Puj and his wonderful wife much. But what I have experienced with them for a short weekend told me enough.

    We shared common friends and coworker Marines; it transcended decades. Nate Monroe (Top to you Marine Corps types) was back at 115; the place we all wanted to be, and/or return to. He went to school together in 1985 when he lat moved from the grunts. I was class leader in Millington, and he taught me how to march our class............ even though I had graduated a Lance Corporal, 3rd squad leader from boot camp.

    When I showed up at VMFA 115, he became my boss. Before I became a plane captain, he put me 'in charge' (ha ha) of plane wash and pre-oiling.

    Lt Col. Logan, our CO for 2 back-to-back Hanson Award years (I believe we are still the only squadron to accomplish this), was at dinner at PI, as well as many other distinguished guests................... I met Col. (Lee) Logan at the race track, as I did, and continue to road race motorcycles. He became my CO about a year after that. That was helpfull at a few office hours.

    All of these points of reference, revisited, were arrainged by Capt. Hooks and his wife.

  8. #8
    Cindy (and hello Larry),

    I was just thinking about Frank today, looking through pictures. Just wanted to let you know. Give me a yell if you ever need anything. My kid, Ella (now 12), says she still wants to fly jets. Hell, she's already racing motorcycles and bikes with her old man, but Frank is the guy that got her fired up about jets.

    I wouldn't stop her in a heartbeat, in fact, I'm grateful to Frank for that.

  9. #9

    Welcome Aboard chiplee!

    No better friend/No worse enemy

  10. #10

    Random memory of a Marine

    I wanted to stop and post a memory of this Marine, Capt. Hooks, because its what I remember the most of him. Sometimes you want to tell the family good things that they didn't know about a their son, husband, or father but you never get a chance to. Hopefully they will read this and know what the Capt. did for me.

    It was the spring of 2002/2003 and we were already in the Med. flight ops were going at full strenght daily and we had been out to sea for sometime. From my post in maintenance control it was a constant juggle every night to get the aircraft in everynight and ready when the sun came up to put more rounds down range in support of OIF. You can imagine how busy the pilots were with constant briefings. At that time I had enrolled in a college course via mail in Electrical Engineering. I obviously wasn't thinking straight as I quickly found out that it was easy to stare without a clue for quite some time, at formulas you don't understand. After asking around I found out that Capt. Hooks had graduated with a major in Engineering. So after speaking with him he decided to try and help me out, when we both had some free time we got together and he explained formulas so that I understood them.

    When we arrived back home to our heros welcome, and all the fan fare faded away I got out of the Corps and headed to Texas. While there I went to school and graduated in Engineering. It was there I had heard about what happened to this "very cool pilot". I was ready to give up when I saw my first engineering book just a 3 years prior, when out in the middle of the Medditeranean Capt. Hooks helped me figure out that I could be an engineer.

    Its funny sometimes how things come full circle. I thought about Capt. Hooks today for some reason and came across an article that said he had went to school at the Naval Academy. And now here I sit, at work, at the Naval Academy and I'm here thanks to the help of one of its finest Alumni.

    May God Bless the family of this Marine
    Semper Fi

  11. #11
    I'll try to see to it that Cindy sees your post. She's registered here as you can tell. I spoke his name today at work for the first time in a few weeks and coincidentally, when I got home I had this topic reply notification email. I guess I never mentioned that we were pilots in the squadron together. It's not surprising how often I think of him, and I'm thrilled to see this thread alive. His relationship with his wife impressed me to the point of envy and its abrupt end, with no goodbye, is perhaps the most painful thing I'm ever compelled to consider. Yet I consider it often. Not that its meant to be, or could ever be any consolation but his loss made me a better pilot. Just like car accidents, aviation mishaps are always something you think won't happen to you, until you lose a friend in one. There had already been a two plane loss in 115 while I was there and I still felt pretty much bullet proof. Now I fly every flight more keenly aware of what's at stake and what really matters. My heart is broken in an utterly unique way for Cindy, and it seems that will never go away. What business do I have being choked up at the thought of it after so long? I miss him, but he is at peace. Missing him for her really gets to me.

  12. #12
    I just wanted to say 'thanks' to the two gentlemen who posted the last few, very insightful pieces.

    Capt. Lee (I assume that is correct), people that have touched your life, or influenced you in some way, live on forever. That's the mark of somebody who has made a true difference.

  13. #13

    Frank "puj" Hooks

    It's awesome for me to see some of the people my brother knew on this forum, reminiscing of some of the good times. My brother and I were very close and it means alot to me to post this here. I think of all of the fun we had playing backyard football, sniping dragon flies with pellet guns. As the years are going by, I miss him more and more each day, but I can still hear his laugh and that's what I miss most. He was always smiling and willing to offer a helping hand and an encouraging word, constantly urging me to do well for myself. He was my idol, and I looked up to him like no one else. I miss my brother very much, and it feels good to see some of you guys talking about him and how he helped out in some way because that's how he was. Semper Fi Bro...I miss you

  14. #14
    Hello from sandy Taji all. Hello especially to Puj's family and friends.

    Fathers Day made me think of how cool Frank and Cindy were to my family. I received a Dads Day 'card' from the kid, created in Photshop. Go figure, she's barely thirteen, and more advanced with computer applications than I will ever be.

    Out of the five pics on this beauty, one is of her and I standing on the static display bird at the 2003 115 reunion. Nobody forgets a thing.

  15. #15

    Talking Memorial Tattoo

    For quite sometime, I've been looking for a tattoo artist to do a memorial tattoo for my brother. I finally found one, and he's an incredible artist. I don't have much time to talk about it this morning, but I'll keep this post updated as the tattoo comes together.

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