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Colonel (Ret) John "Jack" William Hand

Born: Thu., Dec. 8, 1932
Died: Sun., Mar. 31, 2019


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Colonel (Ret) John (Jack) William Hand Colonel (Retired) John (Jack) William Hand, 86 years old, died on Sunday, March 31 at Cornwall Manor in Cornwall, PA. Colonel Hand was born on December 18, 1932 in Shenandoah PA to the late Alice A Hand Sweeney (Eisenhauer) and James Henry Hand. He graduated from Lemoyne PA High School in 1950 and from the Pennsylvania State University in 1955 with a BS Degree in Electrical Engineering. He also graduated with a commission as a second lieutenant in the US Air Force following his successful completion of the Air Force ROTC program. Jack's father died when he was five years old, but he had learned the merits of hard work and a disciplined lifestyle from his dad and grandparents. As a result, he worked his way through college and embarked on a stellar military career that spanned more than 30 years. After completing primary pilot training in June 1955, Colonel Hand's first operational assignment was as a line pilot in C-118s with the 18th Air Transport Squadron, Military Air Transport Service, McGuire AFB, New Jersey. While there, he was upgraded to aircraft commander and became a flight simulator instructor. In 1961 he completed training for the newly acquired C-135 transports and eventually served as Chief of the C-135 Flight Simulator Section. In 1964, he moved to Tinker AFB, Oklahoma as one of the initial C-141 instructor pilots, subsequently becoming Chief of the Flight Simulator Section. Colonel Hand was selected to attend the Air Command and Staff College in July 1966 and, upon graduation in 1967, was assigned to the 315th Air Division in Bangkok, Thailand as the C-130 Air Operations Officer. He returned to the US in 1968 as manager of the Military Airlift Command Flight Simulator Program at Scott AFB in Illinois. From 1972-1973, he attended the Air War College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and was then was transferred to McGuire AFB as Chief of the 21st Air Force Operations Center. He remained there until May 1975 when he reported to Washington, DC, to begin training for his first attache assignment. He assumed the position of US Air Attache to Austria in July 1976, a position he held for three years. From 1979-1981, he served as Vice Commander of the Civil Air Patrol, USAF, Maxwell AFB. He then returned to Washington, DC, to begin training for his second attache assignment. In 1982, he became US Defense/Air Attache to Hungary and remained there until 1986. Colonel Hand's military career was one of distinction and highlighted with the award of many medals and commendations, including the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster and the Legion of Merit. He was a command pilot with 8,700 flying hours. It was while serving at Tinker AFB in 1966 that Colonel Hand married the former Audrey Corio Diebler, who then embarked on a career as a military wife, a role she filled admirably. Although she gave up her own professional career, she and Jack worked as a team as she accompanied him around the world. They were truly soulmates, and he cherished her support and ability to interact with military and political dignitaries. After Colonel Hand's retirement, they moved to Chocorua New Hampshire where they made many friends and enjoyed the peace and quiet of living in a lakeside community. After Audrey passed away in 2005, Jack remained in New Hampshire for five years, then moved to Hershey PA to be closer to his only sibling, his sister Helen Lindenmuth, and his two nieces, Jane Lindenmuth and Judy Cassel. He was a devout Roman Catholic and a member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Palmyra. Due to failing health, he moved to Cornwall Manor in Cornwall PA in 2017 and received spiritual support from the staff there, as well as from Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Cornwall. Colonel Hand is survived by his stepdaughters, Merrily (Bob) Young and Denise (Dick) Koenig, stepdaughter-in-law Fiona Deibler, five step grandchildren, William, Alexis, Richard, Dustin, and Tiffany, nieces Jane Lindenmuth and Judy Cassel and cousin Helen Reese. In addition to his wife, Colonel Hand was preceded in death by his stepson, Anthony Deibler, his sister, Helen Lindenmuth, and a nephew, Lamar Lindenmuth. Funeral services will be private and at the convenience of the family. His nieces would like to extend heartfelt thanks to the staff on Hillside 2 at Cornwall Manor for their compassionate and attentive care.

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