Dander, Vern – CO

Vern Dander

1952 – 1956, US Naval Academy.

1957, Commissioned USAF; Wings 1957; to Randolph AFB, TX., for H-13/H-19/H-21 training.

1958, Stead AFB, NV., H-19 high altitude.

1958 – 1961, Itazuke/Brady AB, Japan – 24th Helron (H-21) & Base Ops (H-19).

1961 – 1966, School & non-helo R&D.

1966 – 1967 Hughes AFPRO, Carlsbad, CA., TH-55 & OH-6 production test pilot.

1967 – 1968, HH-3 training at Sheppard AFB, TX. & Eglin AFB, FL., then to 37th ARRS, Da Nang AB, RVN, as RCC.

1968 – 1972, Pentagon, Rescue/VTOL requirements.

1972 – 1980, non-helo. R&D Andrews AFB, MD., and Hanscom AFB, MA.

Retired USAF June 1980.

1980 – 1990, 10 years with Martin-Marietta in R&D, retired ’90.

1992, consultant with EPA Denver, CO., still at it.

~ Final Flight 23 December 2017 ~

Vernon Allan Dander, Colonel, USAF (Retired)
December 22, 1934 – December 23, 2017

Vernon Allan Dander a native of Stockton, died on December 23, 2017. Vernon was born in Stockton, CA on December 22, 1934 the first born son of Vernon Sidney and Marie Evelyn Dander.

Vernon was a Naval Academy graduate and member of the famous Sugar Bowl Navy football “Team Named Desire” of 1955. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant to serve in the US Air Force upon his graduation from the Naval Academy, Vern entered pilot training earning his wings in the spring of 1957 at Goodfellow AFB Texas, Randolph AFB Texas and Stead AFB Nevada. Later that same year, Vernon returned to Stockton to propose to his high school sweetheart, Claire Ann Herring and they were married in November 1957. Upon completion of advanced helicopter pilot training in Texas. Vernon and Claire deployed to Itazuke Air Base in Kyushu, Japan in the summer of 1958 for his first deployment of three years flying H-21 helicopter missions.

Their daughter, Katherine was born November 27, 1958 while they were deployed in Japan. In 1961, the family returned to the the United States and Hanscom AFB MA where Vernon earned an MM/EE from AFIT and assigned an Engineering position there. In 1966, Vernon returned to helicopter operations as an acceptance pilot at the Hughes TH-55/OH-6 production facilities in southern California. After upgrading to the Sikorsky Pave Low HH-3 long range search and rescue helicopter, Vernon deployed to Da Nang Air Base Vietnam in September 1967 as a Jolly Green Giant rescue pilot. He and his crew completed an amazing 196 CSAR missions with six combat rescues flying out of both Da Nang and Khe Sanh. Vernon’s next assignment was at the Pentagon as the USAF VTOL/Rescue Systems Coordinator where he lead efforts to improve existing SAR systems and establish new criteria for advanced helicopter capabilities including night and all weather systems now in use today on the modern Osprey airframe.

Thereafter, he was assigned to Andrews AFB in 1972 where he developed programs to improve intelligence being provided to in theater tactical air forces in the European theater. This ultimately led to his promotion in 1975 to Deputy Program Manager at Hanscom AFB where he established a multi service version of the program that began at Andrews AFB. After 24 years of military service, Colonel Vernon Allan Dander retired at Hanscom AFB in June 1980. Military honors and awards include: Defense Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star, Air Medal with 8 Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, Air Force Longevity Service Ribbon with six Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Presidential Unit Citation and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

Vernon was hired immediately upon entering civilian life by Martin Marietta Aerospace and moved to Colorado. There he became Deputy Program Manager for special intelligence systems and USAF simulation programing remaining there a decade. He retired from Martin Marietta in June 1990. After six months of retirement, Vernon was recruited to work for the Environmental Protection Agency Region Eight office Denver, Colorado. In 1992 Vernon began work in a technical capacity with the agency’s Federal Lead Based Paint Program. In 2010 he left EPA and joined Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colorado as an environmental instructor on their staff.

Vernon retired in March 2011 and he and Claire moved to Linden Ponds in Hingham, MA. just south of Boston. Nonmilitary honors and awards include: San Francisco Chronicle All Northern California First Team Selection Tight End 1951. Sugar Bowl Championship Game Navy victory over Ole Miss 21-0 at Guard 1955. Stockton Athlete of the Year 1955. Academic All-American 1955 and the only member of the Navy team to start every single game during the 1955 season. And Stockton Athletic Hall of Fame inductee 1993. Vernon and Claire traveled extensively in retirement throughout the world to places like Switzerland, Tuscany, Hapsburg Empire, Central and South America, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Caribbean, Baja, New Zealand and Australia.

Vernon is survived by a proud family including his wife Claire and daughter Katherine of Boston, MA., nephew Craig Richard Dander of Tracy, CA and niece Heidi Ann Hawthorne of Vallejo, CA

Published in The Record on Dec. 31, 2017

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