Lt Col "Uncle Billy" Enoka was a beloved member of our Hawaii Wing 'ohana. Here, our members and friends share their memories of Uncle Billy.
From Maj Lisa Myrick, CAP, NHQ Deputy Chief of Field Fundraising:
The first time I met Uncle Billy was at Dillingham. My son and about 9 other cadets were there to do glider orientation flights. My son was next up, and Uncle Billy asked me if I wanted to ride in the tow plane to see it from his angle. At first, I was hesitant, but Bill was sweetly persistent saying, "You'll get the best pictures of the release from there," smiling that smile that lit up his whole face. Of course, I went. And he was right! Best pictures ever! Flight after flight, Bill's enthusiasm and patience with the cadets never wavered. When the last cadet had flown, he looked over at me and gave me that smile. He said, "Hey! We got time. You want go up?!" I laughed and said, "Nah, I'm good." He laughed and told me that I should give it a try and see. He talked about how amazing and beautiful it is from up there. It was that sweet grin and twinkle in his eye that had me following him to the glider. He made arrangements for another tow pilot to fly his beloved Bird Dog, and off we went. He was so patient and passionate about his love of flying. That was my first and last glider flight. It was amazing and beautiful and was everything Bill said it would be. I am so grateful that he was relentless about me going up with him. And even more grateful now to have shared that time with him. Over the last nine years, every moment with Bill has been exactly like that - full of his smiles and bright twinkling eyes and passion for flying and for our cadets.
From Maj Dwight Martin, CAP, Hawaii Wing Reserve Squadron:
Bill was an enormous asset for HIWG and its Cadet Program. His love of flying was reflected in the big smile that continually graced his face. He was an awesome pilot and I always enjoyed my flights with him. RIP, brother.
From 1st Lt Kaohu Detwiler, CAP, West Oahu Composite Squadron:
I’m Kaʻohu Detwiler, former cadet and now a current senior member at West Oahu. In the summer of 2007 I was one of four very fortunate cadets from Kauai, Oahu, and Kona. We were a part of the 2007 Hawaii Wing Glider Encampment. Bill was of course the head of our training. I remember begging him to take me up on one of the instructions. So he finally gave in and little did I know I was in for a ride. He decided to have me work on my boxing drills. I had to fly in a box pattern behind the tow plane. I just remember the constant yelling from behind me and thinking to myself, “What the heck did I just ask for?” All four of us went on to solo that week! Now my son is a cadet at West Oahu. He was blessed to have also met Bill. I explained to my son how Bill was my very first instructor and the reason I’ve pursued aviation as a career. Bill was an amazing person and a great mentor. He will be greatly missed.
From Maj Sean Colley, CAP, Honolulu Senior Squadron (Currently stationed in South Korea):
It is a wonderful thing that such good pilots retire and come to Civil Air Patrol to give back. To give back the knowledge, skills, and wisdom that they have acquired along the way to the younger generation. I have learned a tremendous amount of knowledge from Bill. He was the Director of Standardization and Evaluation for Hawaii Wing when I came onboard in CAP back in 2008. I was fortunate to fly with Bill, Tom, Joe, and others. Learning from the best. Bill was very thorough and detailed both on the ground and in the air. Many years later, after I progressed to CFI and Standardization pilot, I finally got a chance to check with him again. He gave me my last check ride before flying to Korea. So it seems like yesterday. He gave so much time to all of us, all of us pilots who needed that free but long stressful check ride. I have no idea how much time he gave, but as the Director of Standardization and Evaluation and the Director of Maintenance, I doubt that anyone has come close to the hours and sweat that Bill has put in. It was a pleasure to work with Bill and be a part of his life. He was a friend, a mentor, my director, and later a partner in checking out pilot business of CAP in the Hawaii Wing. I know he is in heaven so there is no worries. God Bless his family!
"Thanks Bill! Hopefully you will look out for me from above."
From Col Pat Collins, CAP, Maryknoll Cadet Squadron Commander:
The first time I met Bill was on a form 5 check for myself, with Bill as the evaluator. I remember executing maneuvers that had not been practiced since I was a Navy flight student. It felt like I had a pool of sweat on the flight deck. Amazingly, I was having an absolute blast! Bill’s manner was relaxed and fun. I will forever remember his characteristic smile and manner.
From Maj Joe Bridgman, Wheeler Composite Squadron:
I have had the honor of knowing Bill almost as long as I have been a member of the Civil Air Patrol, and he has shaped my aviation life for many years. We have flown together many times and have covered all the Islands. He has always been a Good friend, a mentor, and so close; I have always felt as though he was my Big Brother. Always sharing everything he knew with me even when I couldn’t grasp or keep up with all the information he had to offer. I know I’m not the only one to tell you that he was a generous, and giving person, and would go the extra mile with anyone. I will miss the check rides with Bill. They were always to the point of maximum mental saturation. His training squeezed more out of me than I could have ever accomplished without his masterful requirement for excellence in every task. Because of his generous giving of his own time; I am a better pilot. How sad it is to not have his fellowship, cheerful smile, and generous personality; these were always just a phone call away. I sincerely believe God has a mission in Heaven for Bill and although it’s hard for us here; we will someday understand. Until that time Bill will be greatly missed and never forgotten by all those his life has touched. My prayer for all who knew Bill is for God to ease the pain and void that we share in our loss, and to know that we will see Bill again. My deepest condolences to the Enoka Family and all who knew him.
From 2d Lt Eva Akata-Eglinton, St. Louis Crusaders Composite Squadron:
My name is Eva Akata-Eglinton and almost twenty years ago, I had the privilege of flying with Uncle Billy with the CAP. I was initially "scared" flying with him because I did not know what to expect! Throughout my aviation career, I had plenty of check rides but this was my first one with CAP. Uncle Billy landed from Kauai and he is all business. We go flying around Honolulu and instantly, I understand that he is doing what he does with CAP because of his love for aviation and his commitment to support CAP- the next generation of aviators. His initial mannerism was a little intimidating in the beginning but soon after, his professionalism made me feel at ease and we were able to fly as a crew. After my checkout flight, I knew deep in my heart that he was going to be my "Uncle Billy". I remember telling him years later that he "likes to act tough" but he is just a big teddy bear!
Fast forward twenty years, my daughter, Brooke, turned twelve years old decided to join the CAP. She was so lucky to have had the opportunity to go up with Uncle Billy in the CAP glider. Uncle Billy was very excited to meet my daughter and to be able to take her up in the glider. We had come somewhat of a full circle - he was able to be involved in Brooke's flight - support the next generation of aviators. This is what he did and I know he loved every second of it!
Blue Skies- Uncle Billy!
From SFO Andrew "Andy" Gomes, Wheeler Composite Squadron:
I remember going out to do my last glider flight and meeting Lt Col Enoka for the first time. He was a BLAST! He was funny and knowledgable and made an effort to help our aviation dreams come true.