Scholarship honors lost crew of Swan 38, assists wing members

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Marnee A. C. Losurdo
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

The Hurricane Hunter Association is awarding two $2,000 Swan 38 Memorial Scholarships for the 2021 fall semester, and the deadline to apply is Aug. 1.

Each year, the association, a private group of former and current Hurricane Hunters, Typhoon Chasers, Storm Trackers and related weather reconnaissance mission members, provides the scholarships to eligible 403rd Wing members, past and present, as well as their dependent family members by providing financial assistance for the pursuit of higher education in a field of their choosing, said Tech. Sgt. Krystal Hernandez, Chair of the HHA scholarship committee and 403rd Wing Inspector General Wing readiness exercise coordinator.

Today, the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron is the only Department of Defense unit that annually flies weather reconnaissance missions into severe tropical weather June 1 to Nov. 30, to gather data for the National Hurricane Center to improve their forecasts and storm warnings. However, in the past it was a mission that was flown by several units in the Air Force and Navy.

“The scholarship reminds people of the mission, its importance, and of the sacrifice made by the Swan 38 crew while serving our country,” said Hernandez. “And, it’s a way to give back to our Reserve Citizen Airmen and their families, for their service and dedication to this nation.”

The Swan 38 crew, assigned to the Air Force’s 54th WRS flying out of Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines, was lost during a reconnaissance mission into Typhoon Bess over the South China Sea Oct. 12, 1974. The crew was flying an Air Force WC-130H, tail number 65-0965 with the call sign Swan 38 and preparing for their second pass through the typhoon when radio communication was lost. No emergency communications were received, and after four days of searching, debris was found but there were no survivors.

This was the last reconnaissance flight and the only C-130 lost in a tropical cyclone, according to the NOAA Hurricane Research Division. The Swan 38 crew members were: Capt. Edward R. Bushnell 1st Lt. Gary W. Crass, 1st Lt. Michael P. O'Brien, 1st Lt. Timothy J. Hoffman, Tech. Sgt. Kenneth G. Suhr, and Sgt. Detlef W. Ringler.

In honor of those lost Airmen, scholarship recipients are chosen based on their academic achievement, strong moral character, leadership qualities, and service to others, said Hernandez.

Applicants must have been accepted for undergraduate enrollment at a regional accredited two-or-four-year U.S. College or university, be in or have graduated in the top third of their high school class, and maintained a grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the previous five semesters. Individuals must complete the application, submit a 500-word essay explaining their career goals, and provide two letter of recommendations and the most recent copy of official college or high school transcripts. Additional details about the requirements, can be found at:

All scholarship application packages must be sent to the Hurricane Hunter Association and received by Aug. 1.

For additional information, contact Hernandez at