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Sergeant Duane D. Hackney receives Air Force Cross

Sergeant Duane D. Hackney receives Air Force Cross


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Sergeant Duane D. Hackney is presented with the Air Force Cross for bravery in rescuing an Air Force pilot in Vietnam. He was the first living Air Force enlisted man to receive the award, the nation’s second highest award for bravery in action.


Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor

Duane Hackney, of Trout Run, Pennsylvania, was born in Flint, Michigan on June 5, 1947. He graduated from Flint Beecher High School where he was president of the student council. Duane joined the Air Force in 1965 and served as a pararescue recovery technician. Hackney was an honor graduate for the Pararescue Specialist School, medical training, scuba training, Combat Survival School, Army Ranger School. His other courses were for security police, NCO leadership and attended Lycoming College in Williamsport. Duane flew 200 missions in Vietnam during two tours 1966-1967 and 1970-1971. Hackney’s helicopter was shot down five times during a two-month period in 1966.

Heroism seems to have run in Duane’s immediate family,” said Robert L. LaPointe, a former PJ. “His father won the Silver Star and Purple Heart in World War II. He had kicked a Japanese grenade out of a foxhole and jumped on three soldiers to protect them from the blast.

Robert L. LaPointe, a former PJ.

He became the youngest person and fourth enlisted to be awarded the Air Force Cross, the Nation’s second highest honor for giving up his own parachute and risking his life on February 6, 1967. Duane’s combat tour ended in October of 1967 and assigned to Hamilton Air Force Base in California. Hackney Duane appeared on the “Tonight Show”, Ed Sullivan, Art Linkletter and Joey Bishop shows, with “Hackney Day” held in Detroit, Michigan. He escaped a fatal wound when a bullet entered the front of his helmet and exited the back during a rescue mission in Vietnam on April 9, 1971. Duane was discharged in 1973 and reentered the Air Force in 1977. Chief Master Sgt. Hackney retired from the Air Force on June 30, 1991 and had been awarded 28 decorations for valor in combat and more than 70 awards in all, becoming the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force history. He earned four distinguished flying crosses, 18 Air Medals, Silver Star Medal, Airman’s Medal, two Purple Hearts, two Meritorious Service Medals and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Other accomplishments for Duane included the Combat Readiness Medal, Master Parachutist Badge, Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon, 1967 Military Airlift Command Airman of the Year, 1968 “Cheney Award” given for an act of valor, 1987 8th Air Force First Sergeant of the Year, posthumously a 2009 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame inductee, Hackney Training Complex dedicated at Lackland AFB in 2013. Hackney was a member of the Grace United Methodist Church in Flint, Master Mason in the Mt. Morris Lodge #535, American Legion Post #64 in Flint and a Genesee County Sheriff Deputy in Flint, with hobbies of canoeing, hiking and boating. Duane died in Williamsport on September 3, 1993 at the age of 46.

When I arrived in Vietnam in 1971, Duane and others had set high standards for us to follow.“When one reads the facts concerning Duane’s actions on the day, he earned the Air Force Cross, many would call his survival miraculous. Some claimed it was instinctive, the result of intensive training. Regardless of how Duane survived, he became an Air Force legend. Being a legend after the Vietnam War was not an easy task. When asked about his Air Force Cross, Duane often stated, ‘I was just doing my job. Anyone else in my situation would have done the same.’

Robert L. LaPointe, a former PJ.

Contents

Three days after reporting for duty, Hackney flew his first combat mission. Somewhere on that mission, a .30-caliber slug buried itself in his leg. To avoid being grounded by the medics, he had one of his PJ friends remove the slug with a probe. That incident set the tone for the more than 200 combat missions he was to fly during his three and a half years of Vietnam duty, all as a volunteer.

Five times in the months ahead, his helicopter was shot down. He doesn't recall how often he went down into the jungle looking for survivors or how many lives his medical training helped him save. As he became a legend in the rescue world, he earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses, not for flying a certain number of missions but for specific acts of heroism, and 18 Air Medals, many for single acts of valor. Then came the Air Force Cross, for which he was the first living recipient, the Silver Star, the Airman's Medal, the Purple Heart, and several foreign decorations.

Hackney's most celebrated mission was on February 6, 1967, when two HH-3 helicopters, Jolly Green 05 and Jolly Green 36, launched from the 37th ARRS at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. They were attempting the recovery of a downed O-1F pilot, Nail 65, near the Mu Gia Pass, North Vietnam. After Airman Hackney made one unsuccessful trip to the ground in search of the pilot, both Jollys returned to base due to foul weather. Later in the day, the helicopters launched again and located the survivor. Airman Hackney was lowered to the ground, and after securing the survivor into the Stokes litter, both were lifted out. No sooner did they reach Jolly 05's door when ground fire erupted. As they raced to exit the area, the helicopter was hit with a 37 mm anti-aircraft round and caught fire. With complete disregard for his own welfare, Airman Hackney removed his parachute and placed it on the survivor. He lunged to grab another one from storage as the helicopter, a growing, blazing fireball, arched across the sky. In an instant, it exploded, just as Airman Hackney slipped his arms through the harness. He was blown out of Jolly 05 by the explosion. Dangling from the harness, he managed to pull the ripcord and the chute opened just as he hit the trees, where he plunged a further 80 feet and came to rest on a ledge in a crevasse. He narrowly avoided capture while enemy troops jumped across the crevasse, mere feet above. Jolly 36 immediately made a run in to locate any survivors, and, when it arrived, found only burning wreckage. and Duane Hackney waving his arms for pickup. He was the only survivor.

Hackney went on to receive more than 70 individual awards becoming the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force history. [1] He was the winner of the Cheney Award for 1967. The Cheney award is given annually to a member of USAF for an act of valor, extreme fortitude, or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest performed in conjunction with aircraft. [2] Upon his return from Vietnam in 1967, Hackney was deployed to the 41st Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron (41st ARRS) at Hamilton Air Force Base, in Marin County, California. Shortly after the awarding of his Air Force Cross on September 9, 1967, Hackney made a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1991 he retired as a Chief Master Sergeant.


Meet The Most Highly Decorated Airman In U.S. Air Force History

Many Vietnam War pilots owe their lives to Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney. As a pararescueman, Hackney saved many pilots who had been shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the course of three and a half voluntary years of service in Vietnam.

According to War History Online, Hackney was born in Flint, Michigan in 1947. He joined the Air Force in 1965 wanting to do pararescue work and that is what he did. On countless occasions he would descend into the thick jungle canopy that was so common to much of Vietnam, both North and South, to find and rescue downed pilots before the enemy could get to them. His skills and his incredible courage became known to the pilots and they knew that if they went down, America would come looking for them.

Many of those times, it was Hackney that was on the job.

Shortly after he arrived in country on his first tour, he took a .30 caliber bullet to one of his legs. This will give you a sense of this man’s character, he removed the bullet himself to avoid being medically evacuated. While we had technological and weapons superiority over the NVA, they were all too often successful in bringing down our fighter planes.

In every case, pilots and navigators would need to be rescued or they would find themselves unwelcome guests as POWs in Hanoi and other places. Hackney was instrumental in rescuing many of those who had gone down. Over the course of his tours in Vietnam he was also on five helicopters searching for downed pilots that would be shot down during those rescue efforts.

Source: United States Air Force
Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney.

In February of 1967, Hackney was on an HH-3E long-range rescue helicopter, also known as a jolly green giant. It was his second rescue mission of the day and they were flying near the Mu Gia Pass in North Vietnam searching, once again, for a downed pilot. Hackney was lowered down into the thick canopy where he found the downed pilot and was able to get himself and the pilot hoisted back up into the helicopter. As the helicopter turned away to get back to safety, it was hit by 37mm flak, which started an intense fire on board the helicopter. Without hesitation, Hackney took off his parachute and put it on the rescued pilot.

He then had to move through the smoke to retrieve another chute for himself.

As he was putting it on the helicopter was hit again and thrown into an uncontrolled spiral. He was thrown out the door of the helicopter and despite the fact that he had not had time to buckle the chute, he was able to deploy it and did a soft landing, but he was in enemy territory. A second jolly green giant was able to locate him and this time, he was the one being rescued. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for his efforts on that mission.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
An HH-3E, “Jolly Green Giant” Sikorsky helicopter.

Hackney would receive over 70 individual medals, awards, and commendations over his career in the U.S. Air Force. These would include beyond the Air Force Cross, 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses with combat Vs, a Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts and 18 Air Medals.

He is the most highly decorated airman in U.S. Air Force history.

Hackney would serve 26 years in the Air Force retiring in 1991, but would die of a heart attack only two years later in 1993 at the age of 46. The training facility at Lackland AFB, near San Antonio, TX was named after him in 2006 and in 2009 he was inducted into the Michigan aviation Hall of Fame.

Source: U.S. Department of Defense
Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney is the most highly decorated airman in U.S. Air Force history.[/caption]

The Veterans Site wishes to add its respect to the memory of Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney. His courage and dedication in saving so many of our downed pilots from capture or death, will not be forgotten. He was a superior example of the Air Force motto, “Aim High.”

Chief Master Sgt. Duane Hackney is a highly decorated hero, but he’s not the only one to come out of the Air Force. When a heavily armed enemy soldier infiltrated an American base overseas, it took the heroics of an Air Force Tech. Sgt. to bring him down.


Duane D. Hackney

Duane D. Hackney was born in Flint, Michigan back in 1947. He graduated from the Beecher High School in 1965. After graduation, he joined the United States Air Force. he was trained as a pararescue specialist. On his first mission a .30-caliber slug buried itself in his leg. To avoid being grounded he had one of his buddies take it out with a probe.

That set the tone for the rest of his time in Vietnam. All in all, he saw more than 200 combat mission in his three and a half years there. He was shot down five times during his tour. In 1991, he retired as a Chef Master Sergeant. Sadly, he died in1993 from a heart attack, he was only 46.

What you may not know about Duane is he was and still is the most decorated enlisted man in the UASF history. He received 28 decorations for valor in combat and more than 70 awards and decoration in all. He earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses, not for flying a certain number of mission but for acts of heroism. He was the only living enlisted man and the youngest to receive the Air Force Cross.

Your day is worthwhile when you make someone smile, so give the free gift of a smile today


Sergeant Duane D. Hackney receives Air Force Cross - HISTORY

Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History

Duane D. Hackney, CMSgt, USAF (Retired)
June 05, 1947 – September 03, 1993

Duane D. Hackney (June 5, 1947 – September 3, 1993), of Flint, Michigan, a United States Air Force Pararescueman, was the most decorated airman in USAF history and the recipient of 28 decorations for valor in combat (more than 70 awards and decorations in all), and winner of the Cheney Award for 1967 (the Cheney award is given annually to a member of USAF for an act of valor, extreme fortitude, or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest performed in conjunction with aircraft).

Three days after reporting for duty, Hackney flew his first combat mission. Somewhere on that mission, a .30-caliber slug buried itself in his leg. To avoid being grounded by the medics, he had one of his PJ friends remove the slug with a probe. That incident set the tone for the more than 200 combat missions he was to fly in three and a half years of Vietnam duty, all as a volunteer.

Five times in the months ahead his helicopter was shot down. He doesn’t recall how often he went down into the jungle looking for survivors or how many lives his medical training helped him save. As he became a legend in the rescue world, he earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses, not for flying a certain number of missions but for specific acts of heroism, and 18 Air Medals, many for single acts of valor. Then came the Air Force Cross, for which he was the first living recipient, the Silver Star, the Airman’s Medal, the Purple Heart, and several foreign decorations.

Hackney’s most celebrated mission was on February 6, 1967, when two HH-3 helicopters, “Jolly Green 05” and “Jolly Green 36”, launched from the 37th ARRS at Da Nang Air Base, Republic of Vietnam. They were attempting the recovery of a downed O-1F pilot, “Nail 65”, northwest of Dong Hoi, North Vietnam. After Airman Hackney made one unsuccessful trip to the ground in search of the pilot, both Jolly’s returned to base due to foul weather. Later in the day, the helicopters launched again and located the survivor. Airman Hackney was lowered to the ground, and after securing the survivor into the Stokes litter, both were lifted out. No sooner did they reach “Jolly 05’s” door when ground fire erupted. As they raced to exit the area, the helicopter was hit with a 37 mm anti-aircraft round and caught fire. With complete disregard for his own welfare, Airman Hackney removed his parachute and placed it on the survivor. He lunged to grab another one from storage as the helicopter, a growing, blazing fireball, arched across the sky. In an instant, it exploded, just as Airman Hackney slipped his arms through the harness. He was blown out of “Jolly 05” by the explosion. Dangling from the harness, he was able to manage to pull the ripcord, and the chute opened just as he hit the trees, where he plunged a further 80 feet and came to rest on a ledge in a crevasse. He narrowly avoided capture while enemy troops jumped across the crevasse, mere feet above. “Jolly 36” immediately made a run in to locate any survivors, and, when it arrived, found only burning wreckage…and Duane Hackney waving his arms for pickup. He was the only survivor.

Airman Hackney went on to receive more than 70 individual awards becoming the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force history. Upon his return from Vietnam in 1967, Hackney was deployed to the 41st Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron (41st ARRS) at Hamilton Air Force Base, in Marin County, California. Shortly after the awarding of his Air Force Cross on September 9, 1967, Hackney made a guest appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1991 he retired as a Chief Master Sergeant.

Duane D. Hackney died of a heart attack on September 3, 1993. He was 46 years old.


1stSgt Duane D. Hackney - Military Timeline


Vietnam was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and in an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths. Even today, many Americans still ask whether the American effort in Vietnam was a sin, a blunder, a necessary war, or whether it was a noble cause, or an idealistic, if failed, effort to protect the South Vietnamese from totalitarian government.

Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France, which received $2.6 billion in financial support from the United States. The French defeat at the Dien Bien Phu was followed by a peace conference in Geneva. As a result of the conference, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam received their independence, and Vietnam was temporarily divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North. In 1956, South Vietnam, with American backing, refused to hold unification elections. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas, known as the Viet Cong, had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government.

To support the South's government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisors--a number that grew to 16,300 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963, South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Viet Cong. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces--which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war.

The next president, Richard Nixon, advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. In 1970, Nixon attempted to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia. This act violated Cambodian neutrality and provoked antiwar protests on the nation's college campuses.

From 1968 to 1973, efforts were made to end the conflict through diplomacy. In January 1973, an agreement was reached U.S. forces were withdrawn from Vietnam, and U.S. prisoners of war were released. In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North, and Vietnam was reunited.

1. The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.


Flint native, war hero Duane Hackney to be inducted into Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor

Duane D. Hackney, who served as chief master sergeant in U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, will inducted into the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor on May 17.

He is one of 12 of Michigan’s most distinguished military veterans who will be recognized at the first-ever Michigan Military Veterans Hall of Honor ceremony in Lansing. The event begins at 2 p.m. at the Michigan Military Museum, 702 W. Kalamazoo St. The event is free and open to the public. To learn more, visit www.mimilitaryvethallofhonor.org or call 517-539-1903.

Hackney was awarded 28 decorations for valor in combat and more than 70 awards and decorations, becoming the most decorated airman in Air Force history.

His pararescue career began quickly. Three days after reporting for duty, Hackney flew his first combat mission.

On his 10th mission, in April 1966, he was hit by enemy fire while pulling a wounded Marine pilot aboard his HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant.” Five times in the months ahead his helicopter was shot down.

He earned four distinguished flying crosses and 18 Air Medals for single acts of heroism.

In 1967 Hackney descended from his HH-3E to look for a downed pilot near Mu Gia pass, North Vietnam. He searched for two hours until bad weather forced a return to base. The severely wounded pilot was found. He carried the pilot back to the helicopter to begin their retreat.

Before they could clear enemy air space, anti-aircraft artillery struck the helicopter, and Hackney strapped his own parachute on the pilot’s back and helped him get out the door. Before he could buckle the chute, the Jolly Green Giant’s fuel line exploded, blasting Hackney through the door.

Holding on to the chute with his arms, he managed to pull the cord before plummeting into the forest 250 feet below. The chute slowed his fall, but he still plunged 80 more feet to a rock ledge. Severely burned and pierced by shrapnel, Hackney managed to evade capture.

The rescuer was rescued. He was the only survivor of the thwarted mission.

For giving up his parachute and risking his own life, Hackney received the Air Force Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor. He was the youngest person and the fourth enlisted member to receive the medal. His combat tour ended in October 1967. He died in 1993 at the age of 46.

In 2018, Michigan became just the 12th state with an entity to recognize veterans, active-duty and reserve personnel statewide. The inaugural event will honor soldiers with a connection to Michigan for their military service, or for their combined military, community and professional accomplishments.

“Honor is a core military virtue that, unlike fame, implies true worth, genuine virtue and real achievement – valorous and meritorious,” says retired Major General Robert W. Smith III, president of the Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor. “The military veterans for whom we will honor at our inaugural ceremony exemplify these attributes through their military, personal and professional achievements.”

This year’s Hall of Honor inductees will be honored in two categories: the “Veterans” category and the “Military” category. Hackney will be recognized on the Military category

Other inductees in that category include:

  • Margaret A. Brewer, Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps, Durand
  • Alexander “Jeff” Jefferson, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Air Forces, U.S. Air Force, Southfield
  • Charles S. Kettles, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Ypsilanti
  • Jack R. Lousma, Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps, Grand Rapids
  • Donald Eugene “Digger” Odell, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force, Mount Clemens

Those who will be inducted in the Veterans category include:

  • Tyrone Chatman, SP4, U.S. Army 1970-1972, Southfield
  • John D. Dingell, Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army 1944-1946, Dearborn
  • Michael Ilitch Sr., Sergeant, Marine Corps 1947-1951, Detroit
  • Keith King, SP4 U.S. Army 1969-1971, Redford
  • Joseph Louis “Joe Louis” Barrow, Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army 1942-1945, Detroit
  • Vincent W. Patton III, Master Petty Officer, U.S. Coast Guard 1972-2002, Detroit

To learn more, visit www.mimilitaryvethallofhonor.org or call 517-539-1903.

Flint native, war hero Duane Hackney to be inducted into Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor added by TheHUB on 05/07/2019
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Today in History – February 6, 1967 – Airman 2nd Class Duane D. Hackney (USAF) becomes first living recipient of the Air Force Cross

6 February 1967 – It was a tough day for Airman 2nd Class Duane Hackney.

Airman 2nd Class Duane D. Hackney, USAF, with jungle penetrator, aboard a Sikorsky HH-3E Jolly Green Giant, Southeast Asia, 1967 (U.S. Air Force)

Here is an excerpt from his biography…

“. . . His pararescue career began quickly. Three days after reporting for duty, Hackney, now an airman second class, flew his first combat mission. On his 10th mission, in April 1966, he was hit by enemy fire while pulling a wounded Marine pilot aboard his HH-3E Jolly Green Giant. Five times in the months ahead his helicopter was shot down. He earned four Distinguished Flying Crosses and 18 Air Medals for single acts of heroism. Then came Feb. 6, 1967, and the mission that would lead to the second-highest award for heroism given by the U.S. Air Force.

“That morning he descended from his HH-3E to look for a downed pilot near Mu Gia pass, North Vietnam. He searched for two hours until bad weather forced a return to base. A few hours later, radio contact with the pilot was re-established and another rescue was attempted. This time, the severely wounded pilot was found. The wounded pilot hugged Hackney and said, ‘You’re beautiful.’

‘Hey man,’ said Hackney, ‘I’m not the stewardess.’

“Hackney carried the pilot back to the helicopter to begin their retreat. They had to hurry because it was rapidly becoming dark. Before they could clear enemy air space, anti-aircraft artillery struck the helicopter, filling the compartment with smoke and fire. Hackney strapped his own parachute on the pilot’s back and helped him get out the door. He found a spare, oil-stained parachute just as a second 37-mm antiaircraft shell ripped into the helicopter. Before he could buckle the chute, the Jolly Green Giant’s fuel line exploded, blasting Hackney through the door. Holding on to the chute with his arms, he managed to pull the cord before plummeting into the forest 250 feet below. The chute slowed his fall, but he still plunged 80 more feet to a rock ledge.

“Severely burned and pierced by shrapnel, Hackney managed to evade capture. When an A-1 Skyraider passed overhead, he fired a flare. A chopper mission was sent in and the rescuer was rescued. When he got back to Da Nang Air Base, he was told that he was the only survivor of the thwarted mission. Four other crew members and the pilot they had gone to save had died.

“For giving up his parachute and risking his own life, Hackney received the Air Force Cross. Hackney was presented the medal by Gen. Howell M. Estes Jr., the commander of Military Airlift Command.

“Hackney continued his distinguished Air Force career, retiring in 1991 as a chief master sergeant. In 1993, he died of a heart attack in his Pennsylvania home. He was 46 years old.”


Heroic Flint native Duane Hackney named to Aviation Hall of Fame

Lowered from a helicopter near Dong Hoi, North Vietnam, Air Force pararescueman Duane Hackney of Flint grabbed a downed pilot.

Just as the two reached the door, the helicopter caught fire from an enemy round. Hackney removed his parachute, put it on the wounded pilot and pushed him out of the chopper.

The airman lunged for a spare parachute just as the aircraft exploded. The chute barely had time to open before Hackney hit trees, then dropped another 80 feet and landed on a crevasse ledge.

It was Feb. 6, 1967. Hackney was 19 years old. By the time he retired as a chief master sergeant in 1991, he had flown more than 200 combat missions and received more than 70 medals and awards, becoming the most decorated enlisted man in Air Force history.Now the Beecher High School graduate, who died in 1993 at age 46, is about to receive another honor: induction into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.

In addition to the late U.S. Air Force Pararescueman Duane Hackney, the Flint area has had its share of noteable aviation connections. Here are a few:

• The Flint Aviation Co. built about a dozen aircraft here from 1917-19. Flint Aviation's Sidney S. Stewart (a driving force behind the creation of Bishop Airport) and World War I aviator Lt. John L. Hunt later built a twin-engine plane here, first flown in 1930, but couldn't market it successfully as three-engine airplanes took over.

• In 1927, young Flint schoolteacher Mildred Doran was one of 10 fliers to die during a California-to-Honolulu airplane race -- a trek that would have made her the first woman to cross the Pacific in a plane. Doran was lost at sea along with pilot Augie Pedlar, who taught flying in Flint, and their navigator. Doran Tower, an unusual, windmill-shaped building raised in her memory near a small airfield in Grand Blanc Township, was razed in 1973.

• Trans-Atlantic solo flier Charles Lindbergh flew his "Spirit of St. Louis" over Flint in 1927. In an early celebrity product endorsement, Lindbergh also lent his fame to promote Flint-made AC spark plugs.

• Clarence "Kelly" Johnson, a 1928 Flint Central High School graduate who died in 1991, helped design the top-secret U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes for the U.S. military. When he retired in 1974, Lockheed Corp. said Johnson had worked on more than 40 aircraft, more than half of which were his original designs.

• At least two U.S. astronauts have local roots: Mike Bloomfield, a Lake Fenton graduate and Donald R. McMonagle, a Hamady High School graduate. Both Air Force veterans flew space shuttle missions.
Source: Flint Journal archives


He will join Charles Lindbergh, Iven Kincheloe and other aviators and astronauts with Michigan roots in the hall, at the Air Zoo museum in Portage near Kalamazoo.

"Duane Hackney was a go-getter," said Dan Hamill, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who participated in a search and rescue exercise under Hackney's leadership.

"You could tell this was a guy who doesn't sit around. He's deserving of any recognition."

Past honors include the Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart and four Distinguished Flying Crosses. Two years ago, Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio named its training facility the Hackney Training Complex.

Hackney's story is featured in Air Force training manuals. He has a permanent display at the Military and Space Museum in Frankenmuth and his own lengthy Wikipedia entry.

What would he think about enshrinement in the Hall of Fame?

"Duane was very humble," said his widow, Carole Hackney Bergstrom of Williamsport, Pa. "He never understood what all the fuss was about. His attitude was, that was his job."

Embraced as a hero upon his return from Vietnam in 1967, Hollywood gave him the star treatment. Hackney had a speaking part on an episode of "I Dream of Jeannie" and an interview on "The Ed Sullivan Show." He also did a round of talk shows, including "The Tonight Show" and "The Joey Bishop Show."

Hackney even appeared as a bachelor on "The Dating Game."

In 1967, Gen. Howell M. Estes Jr. sent a private plane to Bishop International Airport and flew the entire Hackney family to Washington, D.C. The occasion was a ceremony to give Hackney the Cheney Award, said a sister, Janice Hackney of Grand Blanc Township.

"I remember we had a private dinner at the Pentagon," said Hackney, then a teenager. "We were very proud of him, but we were also very fearful for his life."

Duane Hackney accepted the accolades showered on him grudgingly, said his twin sister, Dianne Elford of Wesley Chapel, Fla.

"He told me, 'The real heroes are the ones who died for our country -- not me,'" she said.

Growing up in Flint, Hackney was an outdoorsman who enjoyed fishing, hiking and canoeing, Elford said. He was a fun-loving guy who liked to play and tease -- especially Elford, though he was also protective of both sisters.

Without a lot of money for college, Hackney and a buddy enlisted in the military after high school. Hackney knew he was probably in line for the draft, but that wasn't his only motivation.


Death and legacy

Duane D. Hackney died of a heart attack on September 3, 1993. He was 46 years old.

In June, 2006, the training facility at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio was renamed the Hackney Training Complex. The facility has space to train up to 1,200 people, and a staff of 50. His widow, Carole Hackney Bergstrom, said about the dedication: "I just wish he could see this. I think he’d really be proud of what he did. He would tell you, ‘All this stuff wasn’t necessary. I was just doing my job.’"

In 2009, Hackney was inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame.


Watch the video: SSgt Germanovich Air Force Cross Ceremony Recognizing Dec. 10, 2020 (June 2022).


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