Hammer, Maax C. Jr.

Last Name:   

First Name: 
Maax C. , Jr.
Born/Died   4/21/16 - 9/22/41
Hometown: Cairo, Illinois
Squadron: 2nd Pursuit Squadron, "Panda Bears"
Position:  Wing Man
Decorations: Distinguished Flying Cross, WWII Victory Medal, Presidential Unit Citation
Pre AVG: Born in East St. Louis, IL. Graduated from E. St. Louis HS in 1935. Attended Washington University, St. Louis, MO and LSU, Baton Rouge, LA. Obtained private pilot's license. Entered service 12/23/39. Basic Flt. Trng. Randolph Field, TX. Graduated Advanced Flt. Trng. Kelly Field, TX with Class 40-E in May, 1940. Recvd. his pilot's wings and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserves. He was assigned to fly P-40 pursuit planes in a fighter group on the east coast.
AVG Service: Recruited from US Army Air Corps Reserves, (probably) Mitchel Field, NY. 8th Pursuit Group. Resigned his commission 7/15/41 and accepted civilian employment with CAMCO under secret presidential authority.  Met other AVG at the Bellevue Hotel, San Francisco, and departed on 7/24/41 from the Port of San Francisco aboard the Dutch ship of the Java-Pacific Line, M/V BLOEMFONTEIN. Shared stateroom with fellow Army pilots R.T. Smith & P.J. Greene.  Transferred to the PENANG TRADER in Singapore and arrived with the rest of "The Bloom Gang" at the Port of Rangoon on 9/15/41. Train trip upriver to Toungoo and arrived Kyedaw Airfield late that night. Assigned to the 2PS PANDA BEARS. 

Killed on Monday, 22 Sep 41 while training in a Curtiss-Wright P-40B Tomahawk near Kyedaw Airfield due to an inverted spin in a heavy rainstorm.  Crashed in the jungle several miles from the airfield.  Funeral service by AVG Chaplain Paul Frillmann on 24 Sep and Maax was buried in the Airmen's Cemetery of St. Luke's Anglican Church in Toungoo, Burma.  He was laid to rest in grave #2 next to "Armie", John Dean Armstrong who was the 1st AVG fatality, two weeks earlier.
Post War Career:
1991 - AVG granted veterans status (declassified documents revealed AVG was on a covert mission under presidential authority)

1992 - AVG awarded Presidential Unit Citation

1996 - AVG pilots awarded DFC by Gen. Ronald Fogelman, CSAF USAF at AVG FTA Reunion in Dallas, TX.
In 1947 an Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) team went to the cemetery of St. Luke's Anglican Church in Toungoo, Burma. Thanks to information from the cemetery caretaker the AGRS team disinterred four sets of remains identified as AVG and transferred them to Barrackpore, India where autopsies were conducted on the skeletal remains and they were classified (as X-633,634,635,636) and re-buried. In late 1948 they were disinterred and transferred to Hawaii where, on Mar 22-23, 1949, they were interred in the Punchbowl Cemetery on Oahu, Hawaii. They rested in peace for 67 years until JPAC staff reviewed the files and notified 3 families. Through their efforts and many contacts with JPAC officials and congressmen the remains were disinterred on April 11, 2016 and DNA samples were immediately sent to the DNA ID Lab. Families were notified on January 4, 2017 that a positive ID had been made. The remains of X-634 have been positively identified as that of Maax C. Hammer, Jr. The families now await the return of their long lost loved Tigers.....

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