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Cliff Hanna...In Memorium

 

The Blue Book says we've got to go out, but it doesn't say a damn thing about having to come back...

 

Way back in 1959, Lt Clifford E Hanna was the copilot on 371 st Bomb Squadron crew R-42, along with AC, Captain John H Allen and Navigator, Harry Jones. Cliff, an extremely affable and competent individual could often be seen at the Aero Club.

 

Like many B-47 copilots at the time, Cliff was not satisfied with the role of the copilot; he would rather do a different type of flying. His opportunity came when his Air Force commitment expired. He then joined the United States Coast Guard and became USCG Aviator #1061.

 

In 1967 Cliff was assigned to USCG Air Station St Petersburg, flying U-2G Albatross amphibian search and rescue aircraft (Air Force types...think SA-16). On the evening of 5 March 1967, Lt Hanna and a crew of five were launched into dense fog in Albatross # 1240, which happened to be the first Albatross delivered by Grumman to the CG in 1951. The mission was to come to the aid of the Flying Fish, a 40 foot yacht reported to be disabled and sinking . About 9 PM Cliff succeeded in locating the yacht despite the fog and successfully dropped a dewatering pump to the yacht. The position at the time was some 22 miles east of Appalachicola and 20 miles SSE of Dog Island Light. A few minutes after the drop, the yacht crew heard a loud noise and saw an orange glow about 2 miles SE of their position. The Albatross never returned to station.

 

For thirteen days, the area was combed by the Coast Guard and Navy, and the bodies of Cliff and two others were recovered, but no aircraft wreckage was ever found. But, there was evidence that Cliff had survived for a while after the crash.

 

In July of 2006, divers belonging to the Association of Underwater Explorers located a crash site in 60 feet of water near Carrabelle, and the wreckage was later confirmed to be that of Albatross # 1240.

 

On 29 May 2007, a Memorial Ceremony was held at USCG Air Station Clearwater for the lost crew of Albatross #1240. The ceremony was presided over by Rear Admiral David W Kunkle, and was attended by Congressman Bill Young and other officials. A permanent monument is to be erected at Clearwater in remembrance of the crew, who gave their lives so that others might live.

 

The ceremony was attended by our Hank Grogan, who remembered Cliff well from Lincoln days. Hank met one old grizzled Chief Petty Officer who remembered the aircrew, otherwise there was no one there with memory going back that far. Although family members of the aircrew were invited, none were present, and apparently there are no current records of family survivors. Hank has told the USCG Commander that should he be able to determine any information concerning Cliff's family, he will pass it back. If anyone in the 307 th Association has any information whatsoever about Cliff's family, please pass it to Mike Gingrich by phone, letter, or email (mikegingri@cs.com), and it will be passed to Hank and ultimately to the Coast Guard.

 

For further information, there are several websites:

www.military.com/features/0,15240,136811,00.html

www.uwex.us/uscg1240.htm

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Copyright 2003, 307th Bomb Wing Association