HEROES
#20 in a series
Lt. Col. Gerald K. Hannaford; Army Air Force & Air Force; Austin, TX
By Paul A. Roales & Others



I have a copy of the class book for Class 44-A AAF Basic Flying School at Pecos, Texas in which over 70 of the cadets have autographed their pictures. Reviewing the signed pictures I came across Jerry K Hannaford of Austin, Texas (see illustration below left). A quick review of his military career indicated he was a worthy subject for further research. So I set out to document his career. What follows was compiled from the www with additional information and pictures provided by his daughter Katherine.

Gerald K Hannaford was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on August 16, 1922. His family moved to Austin, Texas in the early 1930's. He attended San Marcos Perperatory school and graduated High School in 1940. He spent a year studying Aeronautics at North Texas Agricultural College and enlisted in the Army Air Corps Cadet program in September, 1942. He took Primary flight school at Santa Maria, CA and Basic flight school at Pecos, Tx. He graduated and earned his pilot's wings and 2nd. Lt.'s bars in January, 1944 in Class 44-A at Advanced Flight School in La Junta, Colorado.

He deployed to the China-Burma-India Front in July, 1944, where he served as a bomber pilot logging 64 missions (271 combat hours), in B-25 bombers in the 490th Bomb Squadron, 341st. Bomb Group from Moran, India and Warazup, Burma. When he deployed to India from Morrison Field, Fla. in a new B-25 he smuggled along a small dog in an ammunition box. The dog was adopted by the squadron as a mascot and named "Bombsight". Bombsight liked to drink Coke from a bottle. The men made a parachute for the dog and he wore it when he flew missions with Hannaford. Bomsight is pictured below right with Gerald. Gerald was promoted to 1st. Lt. in November, 1944 and to Captain in June, 1945. On January 1, 1945 Gerald was involved in a minor aircraft accident when he ground looped a UC-64A Norseman bush plane at Warazup, Burma.


Gerald returned to the states in October, 1945 and was discharged in November, 1945 but remained in the reserves. He married his wife Jean in Austin in 1946. He worked as the Assistant Manager of the Lamar Cafe in Austin. When the Air Force became a seperate service in 1947 he reentered the military and resumed his rank of Captain. He was stationed in Japan as a B-25 instructor-pilot with the 7th Air Service Group of the Fifth Air Force at Yokota, he was also the PX Officer. Their only child, a daughter named Katherine, was born in 1948.

When the Korean War broke out he was transfered to the 3rd. Bomb Group, 13th. Bomb Squadron where he flew 50 missions (229 combat hours) in a B-26 out of Iwakuni, Japan in 1950 and 1951. In August 1951, the squadron moved to Kunsan Airfield, South Korea to get closer to the battle.

After his deployment to Korea he returned to the US at Langley AFB in VA as part of the 422nd. Bomb Squadron. On Feb. 5, 1953 while taking off from Maxwell AFB, AL in a B-45A he was involved in a minor accident. Later, on April 2, 1953 he was involved in an accident at Langley AFB while landing in a B-26C. He was not seriously injured in either accident. He was promoted to Major in May, 1953. Later tours of duty included overseas postings in France (Laon) and Germany (Ramstein), followed by a stint in the U.S. (California and New Mexico) and then a return tour to Germany (Weisbaden) in 1963. He had been promoted to Lt Colonel in May, 1960. He was assigned as a staff officer in Operations at Headquarters USAFE, Lindsey Air Station. The picture below left shows Gerald in 1963.


On the afternoon of January 28, 1964 Lt. Col Gerald K Hannaford and Capt. Donald G Miller were taking a familiarization flight with Instructor Capt. John F Lorraine in a T-39 jet trainer. The unarmed jet apparently strayed into East German territory and was shot down by 2 Soviet Mig fighters near the town of Vogelsberg. All three men on board were killed. Their bodies were returned a few days later.

The people of Vogelsberg erected a cross at the site of the crash shortly afterwards. The Soviets immedeately tore it down. The replacement of the cross by the citizens and its destruction by the Soviets was repeated several times until the Iron Curtain came down. On the 50th. anniversary of the shoot down in 2014 the city organized a commemoration ceremony. With the help of the Air Force they tracked down the children of the three flyers and invited them to visit the location where their fathers were killed. The children of all three airmen, including Katherine, attended. The photo above right shows the families at that ceremony and the cross at the site of the crash. Katherine has identified the people (left to right) as: "Kennan Stryker, my son; me; Kathy Hayes, wife of Brian Lorraine, son of Capt John Lorraine; Dieter Grosch, as a boy, he saw the plane come down, and quickly rode his bike from the school to the field (~1 mile). He and his friend were the first to actually arrive at the crash scene; Tracey Toole, daughter of Capt Donald Millard; man, name unknown, community supporter of memorial and commemoration project; Manfred Grosch, father of Dieter, community supporter of memorial and commemoration; Jared Stryker, my younger son; Bruce Lorraine (to right of cross), son of Capt John Lorraine; Brian Lorraine, son of Capt John Lorraine; Garhard Harsch, mayor of Vogelsberg, supporter of memorial and commemoration project."

Lt. Col. Gerald K Hannaford had achieved the position of Command Pilot in 1959. He had 3793 total flying hours in a variety of aircraft from props to jets; fighters to bombers to cargo aircraft. Among other honors he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (silver oak leaf cluster), Air Medal (silver oak leaf cluster), as well as the Korea Presidential Unit Citation and the French Flying Cross (Brevet Militarie de Pilote D'Avion). He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thanks to Katherine Hannaford for some information in this article and for the bottom 2 pictures, and to M B Barrett for the picture of Gerald and Bombsight.



E-mail feedback or questions to Paul Roales.You can return to Heroes: An Introduction HERE. All contents copyright 2015 by Paul A. Roales