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."
Mr. Hirshberg was elected to the Board of Trustees, Holderness School, Plymouth, N.H. He was a member of The Sylvanus Packard Society, Tufts University and was presented with the Presidential Volunteer Service award in 2005. He was an instructor at the Maritime Academy of Riviera Beach, Fla., and inducted into the National Teacher Honor Society in 2008 for Navigation and Nautical Astronomy. He was a Vessel Inspector in the Marine Safety Detachment, U.S.Coast Guard, Lake Worth Inlet. He was a 100 ton Ships Master, U.S. Maritime Service.
He is survived by his two sons, Steven P. Hirshberg of Andover, and Robert J. Hirshberg of Cary, N.C., together with Dr. Yang Xin, like a loving daughter, also of Cary, N.C.; and his dear daughter-in-law, Susan Hirshberg of Andover.; David Hirshberg of N. Andover is his grandson. His surviving brother is, Dr. Milton J. Hirshberg of Harwich, and sister, Elaine Hirshberg of West Palm Beach, Fla.
ARRANGEMENTS: Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the graveside service with military honors on Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 10 a.m. in the Children of Israel Cemetery, Middle Rd. Haverhill. A memorial period will follow the interment on Sunday until 10 p.m. at his son Steven’s home. Arrangements are by the H.L. Farmer & Sons Funeral Homes, Haverhill and Bradford. Condolences to his family may be made at www.farmerfuneralhomes.com.