Disembarking from the Swiss freighter and rescue ship MS Celerina and touching dry land at Antwerp, Belgium for the first time in five days were the remaining survivors of the ditching of Flying Tiger Line Flight 923. Shown above at the handrail are some of the survivors of the US chartered transport which successfully ditched in the North Atlantic Ocean on September 23, 1962. Survivors included crew members, regular military passengers from all branches of the military (usually over the rank of E-4 with more than 4 years of service), and some 30 brand new combat paratroopers literally taken direct from jump school to military assignment. In the photo below are (L–R) SMSgt Peter A. Foley, an Air Force reporter for the Stars and Stripes, Captain and Mrs. Juan G. Figueroa, being escorted by a USAF nurse. Below are the skipper of the Swiss Freighter Celerina, Dominic Lugli, with his wife (left) and daughter. Wife and daughter were aboard the Celerina at the time of the ditching and helped in the rescue by providing comfort and assistance to medical personnel. Air Force Brig Gen Royal Hatch presented a plaque to Capt Dominico Lugli. The plaque marked the rescue of September 23, 1962. General Hatch cited Captain Lugli’s seamanship and professionalism as it affected the rescue. Survivor Lt. Col. George H. Dent, Fredericksburg, VA, described for newsmen the sequence of events following the ditching of the chartered transport. Col. Dent later testified at a Civil Aeronatics hearing at New York that he felt there was something wrong with the aircraft as it vibrated as he went aboard. See that story by clicking here. Young paratroopers were provided new uniforms, a taste of American beer, and a chance to go into the cockpit of a super constellation. Shone below with no fear of flying is Pvt Joe E. Hoffer from Birmingham, Alabama, who is credited with holding the single flashlight used to signal the aircraft above. Anyone knowing anything about the whereabouts of Joe Hoffer, please contact this web site.
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