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Patrick Behnke

Captain Patrick Behnke was killed during his initial PAVE LOW qualification course at the 1551st CCTW, Kirland AFB, NM. All on-board aircraft 69-5792 were killed during the night air refueling training sortie. Capt Behnke transferred into the Air Force and was previously in the US Marine Corp with H-53 time.
Pat left behind his pregnant wife.

Excerpt from Col J.D. Clem:

Pat and Hardy were both in my initial qual class at ABQ.  There were 4 of us in the class Pat and Hardy were stick buddies and Jonathon Jay and I were stick buddies.  Jonathon and I had been stick buddies at Rucker as well.  Both Pat and Hardy were experienced helo pilots. 

Hardy was prior Army, a warrant officer with a lot of Huey time.  He’d been assigned somewhere in the Midwest prior to getting a 53 assignment.  I think Kansas or Arkansas but I’m no longer certain.  Pat was a former Marine.  He had about 1000 hours of 53 time and was enroute to the 20 SOS.   Both were married.  Hardy had two daughters I believe and was enroute to the catch-a-falling-star unit in HI. 

Pat was recently married and his wife was pregnant.  I believe she was at 8 months at time of the accident.  Hardy, Pat and I lived in the dorms next to the West O-Club in rooms 1, 2 and 3.  We did everything together.  I think I accounted for the  bulk of their time for the 3-days prior to the accident that the Board looked into. We played 9-holes of golf the weekend before the crash. My first and last (to date) golf experience on a golf course.  As I recall the crash was a Thursday Tuesday night flight which was the weekly night AR schedule for the school at the time.  At one point Johnathon and I’d been scheduled but the decision was to push Hardy and Pat as they were close to graduating. 

The class grew while we were there as they added then Lt Col Jim McCardle, enroute to the 67 ARRS to be the DO and Lt Col Wayne Corder, later a 20 SOS commander.  I can’t recall for certain but think these were initial quals for previous high time helo guys.  I know Col McCardle won the McKay trophy while in Korea rescuing 40 from a ship in a storm and Col Corder had a lot of huey time.  I think both of them had finished up prior to the crash. 

Pat used to always wear his chute (was optional at this point) and sit on the ramp during AR.  
Both were great guys and have been sorely missed all these years.



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