Formerly of Haverhill — Alvan C. Hirshberg, LCDR U.S. Navy retired, died peacefully January 16, 2013 in Cary, N.C. surrounded by his two sons, Steven P. Hirshberg of Andover, and Robert J. Hirshberg of Cary, N.C.
Mr. Hirshberg was born in Haverhill, on March 14, 1926, the son of the late Eva and Harry Hirshberg. He was an Eagle Scout, attended public schools and graduated from Haverhill High, class of 1943. One week after his seventeenth birthday he enlisted in the U.S. Navy's V-12 officers aviation training program at Tufts University. He completed flight and navigation school USNAS Brooklyn, N.Y. and received his gold wings and officer's commission eighty weeks later, then was assigned to flight squadron VR-11 in the Pacific battle theater. He received the Asiatic-Pacific and Victory World War II medals. When peace came he returned to Tufts University, Medford, and graduated class of 1948 with a bachelor of science degree in biology. He remained in the U.S. Navy Reserve flight squadron VR-912 NAS South Weymouth, until 1968. He retired as Lieutenant Commander on March 14, 1986. He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 53 years, June Betty Novick of Lowell.
Mr. Hirshberg was a life member of the 210 National Foundation, a shoe manufacturing industry society. He developed a number of proprietary shoe manufacturing components and was an importer of crepe rubber soling, and president of Harry Hirshberg & Co., Inc., Andover.
Mr. Hirshberg received the Carnegie Medal for Courage and Heroism when he saved the lives of four trapped cockpit crew members aboard an American Airlines Electra that crashed at LaGuardia Airport in New York on September 14, 1960. Hirshberg was a passenger aboard the ill fated, inverted plane that crashed upon landing. With burns upon his body he escaped from the aircraft and ran forward where he saw that the cockpit crew were unconscious. With a quarter from his pocket he pried open the cockpit emergency escape hatch and carried all four crew members, one by one to safety, as the wreckage exploded. For this action he also received the Award of Merit from the Flight Safety Foundation and a commendation from the Admiral of the First Naval District. When a New York Times reporter asked Mr. Hirshberg what prompted his heroic action he replied, "I'm no hero. This was the result of my Navy training."