Robert G. "Tow" Dela Hunt

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Robert Graves Dela Hunt

Also Known As: "Tow"
Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI, United States
Death: December 13, 1970 (58)
Milwaukee, WI, United States
Place of Burial: Milwaukee, WI, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Benjamin V. Dela Hunt, Sr., banker and Julia Dela Hunt
Husband of Kathryn Dela Hunt
Father of Daniel Delahunt; Thomas Delahunt; Mary Hayes Dela Hunt; Patrick Flanagan Delahunt; Suzanne Delahunt-Shanks and 1 other
Brother of Mary Graves Crowley Ewens; Benjamin V. Dela-Hunt Jr. and David Graves Delahunt, Sr.

Managed by: Private User
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About Robert G. "Tow" Dela Hunt

Robert Dela Hunt was credited with saving at least 10 lives as a pilot in the "Snafu Snatchers" sea rescue squadron during WWII.


"Log and Records of 'Crew 4' (Flight A) 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron," Fifth Air Force, covering the period January through August 24, 1945, were written by Henry J. Dorenkamp, Jr., of Louisville, KY, and transcribed by his wife, Virginia Dorenkamp. The crew was comprised of

  • Robert G. DelaHunt, Pilot
  • A. E. Cockman, Co-Pilot
  • Henry J. Dorenkamp, Navigator
  • M. H. Barry, Radio Man
  • W. Rybarczk, Radar Man
  • W. J. Delisle, Surgical Tech.

January 12, 1945: 6th Emergency Rescue Squadron put into operations at Keesler Field, Biloxi, MS, with Major Carlton as Commanding Officer. February 21: Left Keesler Field by train for Hunter Field, Savannah, GA (Staging Area). March 7: Received OA/10A number 44-33984. [Plane subsequently called "984"] Crew checked, completed, and accepted plane. All very pleased about it. March 8: Flew calibration mission with 984. Turned out very well. March 9: Took off in 984 with complete crew and equipment from Hunter Field for English Field, Amarillo, TX. March 10: Took off from Amarillo for Mather Field, Sacramento, CA, at sunset and arrived at Mather early in the morning of the 11th. Weather very good that night, but still flight dangerous because of mountains. Snow on mountain tops made flight very beautiful. March 13: Left Mather Field for John Rogers Naval Air Station (next to Hickman Field), Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. Flight took 23:10 and arrived on the 14th. Got north of course on way and went into Barking Sands Island first then to Oahu. March 16: Left John Rogers for Christmas Island. March 17: Christmas to Canton. March 18: Canton to Tarawa. March 19: Lost! Crossed international date line. March 20: Guadalcanal to Finschafen, New Guinea. March 22: Finschafen to Biak. Bombed about 2200 (ITEM) on the 22nd. Ship unharmed. March 23: Biak to Cheeky Field, Taccloban, Leyte [Phillipines]. Not under A.T.C. directions any longer. Stayed at 93rd Replacement Battalion (hell hole), and moved in with 3rd E.R.S. March 27: Pulled 100 hr. inspection on 984 with help of 3rd E.R.S. mechanics. ... April 8: First Combat Mission. Left Gote [Lingayen, Luzon, Phillipines] and orbited around a sub (code name Bellyfull). 30 Bellyfull 240 was 7 nautical miles southwest of Toko off southwest Formosa Island (orbit point was 30 nautical miles on a true course of 240 from this point. Received a distress call from a B-25 (Roger 177) and crossed his path and followed him in. We were playmate 31. Landed at Gote and were told Honey strip was open and to take off and land there. First plane to land on Honey since it was closed because of water [flooding due to rain]. 9:05 combat time (total). ... May 14: Combat Mission. Conducted a search for 12 members of a Navy PB-4-Y2 (B-24). Crew started out last night (2300), but no ship was available. Started out at 1030 this morning. Used Santiago Island for departure point. Ditching coordinates were 119-20E 16-17N. Sighted a school of whales during search. Sighted 9 men at 1323. First ones to spot them. FIRST RESCUE made in the 6thERS. Called the 6 P.B.M., 2 PB-4-Y-2, 1 PB-4Y, the destroyer (poison), and one of our own Jukeboxes (B-17). We dropped the two external gas tanks (330 gals.) and 500 gals. from the main tanks; however, the destroyer came into view, and as the swells were about 10 feet or better, we gave up the idea of landing. We also dropped 2 life rafts, and every smoke float and dye marker in the ship. The B-17 came in 1/2 hr. after the call of discovery, and dropped the life boat. We returned to base (Esquire at 1750) after 7:20 of combat time. Flew 006 - Riley's ship. ... August 9: Flew to Southwestern Kyushu with Lt. Colton (B-17) and Lt. Halverson (OA/10A) as Playmate 34 Went alone (with exception of one fighter as cover) up the western coast of Kyushu in search of one survivor. Spotted survivor just as a Navy Playmate (PBM) landed to pick him up. DelaHunt saw an explosion around the Nagasaki area about 150 miles from our then position at noon (At noon today Nagasacki was wiped out by an Atomic Bomb). A stray plane gave us the news over V.H. F. that "Russia had declared war on the peoples of Japan" (it actually happened at 0001 this morning - Ie Shima - Phillipine time, 9 hrs. ahead of Greenwich). Halverson landed and discovered a bullethole in his port wing, just outboard of the auxiliary tanks. Landed at Ruby strip, Okinawa, to gas up the plane before returning to our base. 2 Betty Bombers were spotted about 15020 miles from us over Jap held Amami [?] Island on our way back. ... autographs of 38 men, all of whom were rescued by the crew of this plane.


Robert G. Dela Hunt's military separation (honorable discharge) papers of November 26, 1945,show that he was an attorney before his entrance into service on January 7, 1944, with blue eyes, blonde hair, 6 feet 3/4 inches tall, 175 pounds, was competent to pilot a two-engine plane, participated in "Air Offensive Japan, Ryukus, China Offensive, Western Pacific, Southern Phillipines, Luzon," that he was awarded "Air Medal, Phillipine Liberation Ribbon with 1 Bronze Star, Asiatic Pacific Ribbon with 7 Bronze Stars, WD Cir 195/44, World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Medal."


Origins of Robert Delahunt's nickname, Tow

Robert, like some of his descendants, had very light blond hair as a child.

One way of describing hair of this kind is to say that he was towheaded. apparently this terms was applied so frequently to Robert, the little towhead became known as little Tow, and simply Tow. The name stuck so completely that even as his hair color turned to a more dusty color, and eventually to gray, the original association was displaced in the momentum of continual usage.

One dictionary defines towhead as

tow·head /ˈtoʊˌhɛd/ [toh-hed] noun 1. a head of very light blond, almost white hair. 2. a person with such hair. 3. a sand bar in a river, especially a sand bar with a stand of cottonwood trees.

That definition neglects directing us to the meaning of the word tow on its own.

The sense for tow from which towhead, and the nickname "Tow" for Robert Dela Hunt, derives is what other dictionaries present as short or broken fiber (as of flax, hemp, or jute), especially when it has been carded (at the stage when it is ready to be spun), especially for thread, yarn or twine; or perhaps when it is to be used for stuffing. This was a substance that could be found in many households in Ireland, England, and other European countries for hundreds of years, when spinning fibers to make strands to be woven was a typical activity of common folk.

The color of this fibrous material when it is un-dyed (has it been bleached?) is a very pale, whitish-blond. This color hair can be characterized as towheaded or platinum, but the terms are not entirely interchangeable. Towheaded refers to a natural hair color. Most such blonds are children. Although platinum blond is a visual equivalent, it is used to describe bleached hair — the blonde of Jean Harlow, 1911-1937, American film actress and sex symbol of the 1930s. No one would refer to the beautiful hair of a Jean Harlow-type blond as a towhead, and it would be unfair to call a towheaded child a platinum blonde.

This kind of blond is slightly less yellow than flaxen blond.

Middle English, from Old English tow- spinning; akin to Old Norse tō tuft of wool for spinning, Old English tawian: to prepare for use.

The first known use of tow in this sense was in the 14th century, but I've not found an early use for towhead as hair color.

The third sense for towhead in the definition cited first, is a small islet or sandbar within a river (most often the Mississippi River) having a grouping or thicket of trees. This derives from the sense of tow as: to pull a vehicle or vessel. This use of the term towhead was popularized by Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. One source claims towhead is "often used for this meaning in the Midwestern United States," though it may never taken hold in places like Milwaukee, where reasons to apply it would be scarce.

— Michael R. Delahunt, Tow's nephew, September, 2011


Obituaries for Robert Dela Hunt appeared in several Wisconsin newspapers. Robert's brother David Delahunt, Sr. took credit for composing these articles. When the staff of the Milwaukee Journal told him it would not print an obituary for Tow, David decided he had to tell a little lie about his brother in order to get the obituary into print. He claimed that Tow had been elected to the state legislature! The newspaper took the story! (Source: Michael R. Delahunt, April 24, 2013)

"...Former State Rep Robert G DelaHunt 58 died Sunday at his suburban Shorewood home after a heart attack. Dela Hunt [represented the] first Assembly district from 1940 to 1942. He had been a postal supervisor at the Milwaukee post office the past...." Source: Capital Times - Madison, Wisconsin - Dec 15 1970 Uploaded April 24, 2013, from Newspaper Archive WOW

"...DelaHunt dies MILWAUKEE AP Robert G DelaHunt 58 who was a state representative from 1940 to 1942 died Sunday of a heart attack at his suburban Shorewood home...." Source: The Daily Tribune - Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin - Dec 14 1970 Uploaded April 24, 2013, from Newspaper Archive WOW

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Robert G. "Tow" Dela Hunt's Timeline

March 20, 1912
Milwaukee, WI, United States
April 22, 1948
Age 36
Milwaukee, WI, United States
December 13, 1970
Age 58
Milwaukee, WI, United States
December 17, 1970
Age 58
Milwaukee, WI, United States