Fred Farrar Hanks
My Close Friend and Co-Worker Fred Hanks
Story by Denny Thatcher
Fred Hanks was assigned to the U.S. Air Force 162nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron which had been deployed to the Korea conflict in 1951. This was a night photographic unit, which utilized equipment manufactured by the Hycon Mfg. Co. of Pasadena, CA. As a technical Representative of Hycon, I was sent to Japan and Korea to support usage, training and maintenance of the A-14 Aerial Film Magazine. The USAF cameral repair personnel were not trained in electronics so it was necessary to establish a special school at the Far East Air Material Command (FEAMCOM) at Tachikawa, Japan, not far from Tokyo. In addition, it was necessary to set up a depot maintenance and overhaul facility there to service equipment being shipped in from Korea. All of this activity was accomplished by Fred and myself so I had a great opportunity to become a very close friend and co-worker.
The 162nd Squadron was transferred from Japan to Tague Air Base in Korea. It was there that Fred and I really had our hands full. Camera repair was in a quonset hut along side the dusty runway and the dirt would pour into the primitive and temporary building. This necessitated frequent and extensive inspection, maintenance and overhaul of the critical camera systems. This is where our efforts at FEAMCOM really paid off. Even camera optics were contracted out to Japanese firms for complete overhaul including disassembly of the lens elements, resurfacing, recoating, cementing, reassembly and final collimation.
It was so gratifying to find such a dedicated and experienced person as Fred to work with and I knew I was going to persuade him to knock on Hycon’s door when he left the Air Force. He did just that and my recommendations of Fred to our company management resulted in his immediate hire. He had gotten married in Ohio to Betty and moved right out to California. They enjoyed their rustic little home up in a tree-covered canyon above Sierra Madre, California.
But their happiness was not for long. The call had come into the company that the aircraft Fred Hanks and Hycons consultant Harold C. Silent were on had crashed on Mt. Charleston in Nevada. Because of my being such a close friend and co-worker of Fred, I was asked if I would go up to their home in the foothills and advise Betty of the situation. That was the most difficult task I had ever been called upon to do. Betty had become such a good and close friend. I knew I must gain my composure and pass along what little information I had been given. What a brave and wonderful woman she was and she made it through the ordeal just fine.
Betty has since remarried to a wonderful man whom she had known back in Ohio and who also had come to California to work for Hycon. Bob Matchett is the gentleman’s name and like myself was a technical representative for many years. Bob and Betty now live out in Riverside where they have their Great Dane Kennel. My wife and I had the pleasure of their company aboard a big house boat on the Colorado River at Lake Mohave about five years ago. What fun! They travel the world as AKC Dog Judges and continue their breeding of the big Danes.