From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Mark Hamilton '87

Date of birth: March 21, 1965

Date of death: March 21, 1991

Age: 26

Lucky Bag

1987 Hamilton LB.jpg


From the Associated Press via on March 21, 1991:

SAN DIEGO - Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Sourthern California, authorities said.

The Navy listed the crews as missing, but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.

The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine Warfare exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.

"I think we have to be realistic here," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. "It is very cold out there. We're talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision...two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim."

Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.

Search and rescue teams saw some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.

There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make "extraordinary" attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the destroyer USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes, were assisting in the search.

A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the Merrill reported a ball of fire and loud explosion about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.

He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.

The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just complted its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.

Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.

The P-3s were in contact with land- and sea-based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.

Showers and strong winds were reported in the San Diego area overnight. The National Weather Service said pilots in the area reported severe turbulence about the time of the collision.

Howard said the Navy was uncertain what part, if any, weather played in the collision.

The P-3 Orion, driven by four propellers, is regularly used by weather forecasters to fly in hurricanes.

Mark is listed as 26 years of age and from Cedarburg, Wis.


From the July/August 1991 issue of Shipmate:

Lt. Mark D. Hamilton USN was killed in an aircraft accident on 21 March 1991 while flying a training mission off the coast of Southern California.

A memorial service was held on 26 March at St. Francis Borgia, Cedarburg, Wisconsin. Another service was held on 28 March at NAS Moffett Field.

Born on 21 March 1965, Mark was appointed to the Naval Academy from Wisconsin with the Class of 1987. He was the lightweight crew team captain his last year at the Academy.

He graduated from the Academy 20 May 1987 and received his NFO Wings 7 February 1989 at Mather AFB. He was assigned to P3 squadron VP-50 NAS Moffett Field I September 1989, and made one deployment to the Philippines. He held jobs as aviation life support systems branch officer, training schedules officer, and patrol plane navigator/communicator.

Lt. Hamilton is survived by his parents, Thomas and Janet Hamilton, 1611 Sumit Drive, Cedarburg, Wisconsin; his brother, Paul D. Hamilton, Captain, USAF, sister Anne (Jeff) Raskiewicz and special friend Lt. Janet M. Walters, VQ-I, NAS Agana, Guam.

Related Articles

Robert Nemecek '80, Dennis Redmond '86, Jay Williamson '86, Ned Metcalf, Jr. '87, and Martin Cox '88 were also lost in the collision of two P-3 Orions of Patrol Squadron (VP) 50 off the coast of Southern California on March 21, 1991.

Class of 1987

Mark is one of 5 members of the Class of 1987 on Virtual Memorial Hall.