Frank Edward Hand

Lieutenant (junior grade)
United States Navy
28 February 1942 - 01 April 1968
Fort Worth, Texas
Panel 47E Line 032



Naval Aviator

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Frank Edward Hand

29 Nov 2007

He moved to Fort Worth, Texas in 1951 from Charleston, S.C. and attended Carter-Riverside High School.

LTJG Hand, along with three other officers and eight sailors, took off on a routine mission on April 1, 1968, in a P-3 Orion from a base in Thailand. His airplane was hit by anti-aircraft fire from a Cambodian gunboat, according to news accounts. The pilots attempted to fly to land, but the aircraft didn't make it. No one survived. Search-and-rescue crews recovered something from every man on board, so none were listed as missing in action.

LTJG Hand was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant by current VP-26 ("Tridents") executive officer Commander Andrew Westerkom on 11 November 2007. LT Hand was laid to rest on 12 November 2007, nearly 40 years after his plane was shot down.

From a shipmate,
Joseph Palmer
Aviation Electrician 2nd Class, US Navy

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Much of what Petty Officer Palmer says above is taken from press reports regarding the recovery of LT Hand's remains and subsequent burial at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery. The US Naval Forces Vietnam History for April 1968 contains the following account of the loss:

The twelve men aboard VP-26's P-3B BuNo 153445 when it went down were

  • LTJG Stuart M. McLellan, Cleveland, OH, pilot
  • LTJG Frank E. Hand, Fort Worth, TX, copilot
  • LTJG Brian J. Mathison, Park Ridge, IL, copilot
  • LTJG Michael J. Purcell, Shavertown, PA, navigator
  • AXC Donald E. Kulacz, Chicopee Falls, MA, aircrewman
  • AT1 Kenneth L. Crist, Cincinnati, OH, aircrewman
  • AE1 Donald F. Wood, Coloma, MI, aircrewman
  • AX1 Alvin G. Yoxsimer, Dola, OH, aircrewman
  • AME2 Donald W. Burnside, Hawley, MN, aircrewman
  • AO2 William S. Cutting, Lebanon, NH, aircrewman
  • ADJ2 Edward O. Wynder, Bridgeton, NJ, aircrewman
  • AX3 Delmar L. Lawrence, Thompson Falls, MT, aircrewman
Although initially classed as "Missing", the twelve men were reclassified as "Missing to Dead - Hostile" in DoD Press Release Number 333-68 issued on 12 April 1968.

Associated Press reports state that fragmentary remains recovered at the time were buried on 24 April 1968 in the Barrancas National Cemetery, Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, where his wife wanted him buried (specifically, in Site 213, Section 32).

One current report from the Dallas, Texas, Star-Telegram web site site reads:

Military honors long-lost officer
Star-Telegram staff writer
Posted on Tue, Nov. 13, 2007

DALLAS - The Navy chaplain, his voice rising above the flapping of dozens of U.S. flags, called it a "beautiful and bittersweet day."

A little bit of Lt. j.g. Frank E. Hand III had returned to Texas, after having spent much of the last 39 years in the water off the coast of Vietnam. Hand, three other officers and eight sailors were killed when their P-3 Orion was shot down April 1, 1968.

He received full military honors, including a "missing man" flyover by Navy F/A-18 Hornets, at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery on Monday morning. His remains were identified this year after Vietnamese fishermen found them and turned them over to Defense Department officials several years ago.

"You'll hear a lot about closure today, but the family had closure about 40 years ago," said Bruce Hand, Frank's younger brother. "Today is a homecoming for a brother, a husband, a son and someone who chose to serve."

Hand, who was 26 when he was killed, graduated from Carter-Riverside High School and attended Arlington State College before joining the Navy in 1964.

The executive officer of Hand's former unit, Patrol Squadron 26 from Brunswick, Maine, attended the service to posthumously promote Hand to full lieutenant.

Copyright Star-Telegram
Chris Vaughn, 817-390-7547
Reproduced under 17 USC 107

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a shipmate,
AE2 Joseph Palmer

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 29 Nov 2007
Last updated 11/29/2007