Wreaths Across America Remembers and Honors the Flying Tiger Line Flight 739
Missing in action; presumed dead.
That’s what the families were told of the men aboard the Flying Tiger, Flight 739, that went missing in March of 1962. 93 U.S. Army Rangers and their flight crew perished in what would become one of the biggest aviation mysteries out of the Vietnam War era.
It’s still discussed today, and as of this writing, family members have had no closure and continue their efforts to place their loved ones’ names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
“We’ve met with one roadblock after another,” shares Donna Ellis Cornell, daughter of SCF Melvin Lewis Hatt of Lansing, Michigan, one of the men aboard Flight 739. “We’ve been told they don’t meet all sorts of criteria; they were outside the combat zone; they were not in direct action of the Vietnam Crisis as they called it. I think a lot of it is just plain secrecy. The mission was so highly classified; they don’t even want to admit they existed.”
Donna, and Jennifer Kirk, whose uncle, SP4 Donald A. Sargent, was also aboard Tiger Flight 739 join Wreaths Across America’s Executive Director Karen Worcester on Mission Matters, which is heard on Wednesdays at 10 AM, and again at 7 PM EST on Wreaths Across America Radio.
Donna speaks to the “snowball effect” that has prevented any sort of visual tribute and remembrance of their loved ones. “Because they’re not on the wall, many of them are not on the monuments in their state, their county, or their city because it all kind of comes downhill from the wall.” Donna says a bill has been introduced in the Senate by Michigan Senator Gary Peters and co-sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. S. 1891-sits with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Jennifer’s family has donated her uncle’s photo and uniform to the Wreaths Across America National Museum located at the organization’s headquarters in Columbia Falls, Maine. This summer, Wreaths Across America will be erecting a memorial wall specifically to remember and honor their service and sacrifice.
“We just want all generations to know what these men did for our country and what the families have gone through for over 58 years,“ Jennifer explains. “Our family is grateful Wreaths Across America will take action to be sure these men are recognized and remembered.”
Tune in to Mission Matters on WreathsRadio to hear Karen’s entire interview with Donna and Jennifer.