Dennis Spang

My Life Aboard the Hannah

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Me Standing by a Spad on Hanna's flight deck

Dennis by a Wing Tank of a SPAD spotted on the Aft Ramp
as seen in the
Aircraft Gallery

Check out this Picture which Dennis found while surfing the Internet recently (10 Oct 2010)

Well, here goes. I was born in Montana, went to a very small school. My High School graduating class numbered eight. Five girls and three boys. So when I tell you that joining the Navy and seeing the world was a big thing for me, it was a REALLY BIG THING for me. I went aboard the Hancock the end of December 1961. We left for our first WestPac cruise I think in January or February of 62. Our first port was Yokosuka Japan. I fell in love with it. If I remember correctly, we spent most of that cruise in and out of Japan. The next two cruises I made however we spent in the South China Sea. The Nam thing ya know. I canít remember very many bad times aboard the Hanna, I know there were a lot, but seem only to remember the good times. I know there were a lot of those.

My worst memories aboard the Hanna were of my new wife I left in Alameda on the second cruise, missed her like crazy, and on my third cruise, I had my first daughter, Deanna Lynn born shortly after we left. Needless to say I hated not being able to see her. All kinds of things pass through my mind when I think of life aboard ship. I remember one incident that I am not very proud of. I remember one night that an F-8 Crusader crashed into the fan tail killing the pilot and I think injuring someone standing fantail watch. I had garbage detail that night and we were not able to dump garbage off the fantail because of the accident. I remember I was happy because I got out of some work. That night before taps the ships Chaplain said a prayer over the PA system for the pilot that died. I felt like an idiot for how I had felt earlier. I guess when you are young it is hard to think past the end of your nose. I think I have grown a bit since then. I hope so anyway.

I recall another incident that maybe made up for my stupid thoughts about the F-8 crash. I was on the mid watch in CIC and my station was our air search radar. I remember it was real quiet, we were not at flight quarters. I had a couple of contacts on the screen, nothing important I thought, when I heard over my headset a pilot talking to one of our support ships, probably a destroyer. The pilot was lost. I canít remember just what his problem was, but he didnít know where he was. I had a contact on the screen about 180 miles out that I thought might be him. I either asked him to, or he told me he was squawking emergency IFF. I identified him, gave him a range and bearing back to Hanna. We went to flight quarters, turned into the wind and recovered him safely. I remember him coming up to CIC and shaking my hand and thanking me. Interesting note, he was flying an F-8 Crusader. I wish I could remember all the particulars. I donít know if he was off the Hanna or off another carrier. I guess it didnít seem important to me at the time. I also remember some wild liberties in Olongapo. I will spare you the details. My wife will probably read this and I donít think she would think most of those stories were very amusing anyway. Does anyone remember the 7-11 bar? It was one of the first ones you came to just after the bridge. Not sure if I really liked the bar, or it was just because it just happened to be the first one I came to every time I went on liberty. Have lots of memories of Olangapo. Memories and scars.

Does anyone remember Tennessee Ernie Ford coming aboard ship and taping two of his TV shows? We anchored out by Alcatraz. When the show was aired, I was with my new bride on our honeymoon at the Desert Sands Motel in Sacramento, Calif. Nothing but the best for my ladyÖ LOL Ö Well here we are, some 34 years, 4 more daughters, and 13 grandchildren later, and Iím still talking about my years aboard the USS HANCOCK. Wouldnít trade 'em for nuttinÖ.


~ Dennis Spang

~ (Dennis Spang)