LTJG Ted Adair Hilger
1913 – March 2, 1942

LTJG Ted Adair Hilger was from Sherman, Texas and the son of John Fredrick Hilger and Emma Dye.  He graduated from U.S.  Naval Academy in 1935 and completed one year of Japanese Language training 1940-1941.

LTJG Hilger was killed when the USS PILLSBURY (DD 227) was sunk by a superior Japanese surface force in a night action on March 2, 1942, 200 miles east of Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.  He was 29 years old.

On 13 January, 1942, the Pillsbury and the Boise joined a convoy that had just left Kupang Bay on Timor, arriving at Saleh Bay, Sumbawa later on the same day.

Her next role was to screen the Marblehead ( along with Pope, John D. Ford and Parrott) as she investigated a report of Japanese ships off Kema on Celebes. By the time the Americans arrived the Japanese had left, so they returned to Kupang Bay, arriving on 18 January.

Between 21-28 January a force built around the Houston escorted the President Polk from Thursday Island to Surabaya. The Pillsbury joined this force while it was at sea.

On 14 February the Pillsbury was part of the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) force that put to sea from southern Sumatra under Rear Admiral Doorman in an attempt to attack a Japanese force. On 15 February this fleet was attacked by Japanese aircraft in the Banda Strait, and although no ships were actually hit, Doorman decided to turn back.

The Pillsbury was part of the ABDA force that attempted to stop the Japanese invasion of Bali. She fought at the battle of the Badung Strait (19/20 February 1942), a night action in which four Japanese destroyers fought off a much larger Allied force. During the battle the Pillsbury fired three torpedoes at one Japanese ship, with no hits. She was then illuminated by a searchlight and fired at. Towards the end of the battle she did manage to score some hits on the destroyer Michishio, (along with the John D. Edwards and Tromp). Between them they killed 13 and wounded 83 of the Japanese crew, and the Michishio had to be towed to safety after the battle.

After this battle the Pillsbury and Parrott (DD-218) were both ordered to move to Tjilatjap, to take on fresh torpedoes and undergo a brief overhaul.

The Pillsbury was lost with all hands on the night of 2 March, while heading towards a planned rendezvous with USS Pheonix (CL-46). In the dark she ran into a powerful Japanese force, four battleships, five cruisers, the carrier Soryu and Destroyer Squadron 4, posted south of Java to prevent any Allied ships escaping. The Pillsbury was detected heading directly towards the Japanese fleet. The Japanese were briefly perplexed by this action, before opening fire. The Pillsbury was sunk by fire from three cruisers and two destroyers, and the only report of the battle came from later interrogation of Japanese participants in the battle. It isn’t clear if the Pillsbury had mistaken the nearest Japanese ships for the Pheonix, or had decided to try a night torpedo attack.

Pillsbury received two battle stars for World War II service, for Asiatic Fleet operations 8 December 1941-1 March 1942 and for Badoeng Strait (19-20 February 1942).