2LT Maax Curtis Hammer, Jr

2LT Maax Curtis Hammer, Jr

East Saint Louis, St. Clair County, Illinois, USA
Death 22 Sep 1941 (aged 25)
Burial Carbondale, Jackson County, Illinois, USA
Plot Block 31, Lot 3
Memorial ID 131102067 · View Source
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Son of Maax Curtis Hammer, Sr. and Ruth Akins Hammer. They were married on Aug. 4, 1914. Maax Jr. had no siblings.

Maax's grandfather, Isaac, immigrated from Hamburg, Germany in 1859 and settled in western Illinois. Maax's family was from Cartersville & Carbondale, IL. Ruth died on Dec. 3, 1930. Maax Sr. was a conductor on the Illinois Central Railroad and later moved to Cairo, IL where he remarried to Jennie.

Maax graduated from East St. Louis High School and attended college at Washington University (St. Louis), Univ. of Mo. (St. Louis) and LSU (Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA). He studied military science and obtained his private pilot's license while living in La. The mascot of LSU is the Tiger...rather ironic.

On 12/23/39 he enlisted in the US Army and went into the US Army Air Corps. He attended Basic Flight Training at Randolph Field, Texas. He graduated from Advanced Flight Training in May, 1940 with Class 40-E and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the US Army Air Corps. He became a P-40 fighter pilot and was likely stationed at Mitchel Field, NY and assigned to the 8th Pursuit Group.

On 7/15/41 Maax resigned from the USAAF to join the American Volunteer Group which was a group of civilians signing up with CAMCO to fly as part of the Chinese Air Force and defend the Burma Road against attack by the Japanese.

Along with 27 other volunteers Maax went to San Francisco, CA, stayed in the Bellevue Hotel and then boarded the Dutch liner BLOEMFONTEIN. They sailed on July 24, 1941 bound for Rangoon, Burma but they changed ships in Singapore and arrived at the Port of Rangoon aboard the PENANG TRADER on Sept. 15, 1941. They boarded the train and arrived at Keydaw Airfield late that night. Maax was assigned to the 2nd Pursuit Squadron, known as the Panda Bears.

On a familiarization flight on a stormy Monday morning, September 22, 1941 Maax's P-40 aircraft entered an inverted spin from which he could not recover. He crashed in the jungle approx. 8 miles from the airfield. He was buried on Sept. 24, 1941 in Grave #2 of the Airmen's Cemetery at St. Luke's Anglican Church in Toungoo, Burma. The service was conducted by AVG Chaplain Paul Frillmann and honors were rendered by fellow members of the AVG.

In combat in the skies over Burma & China the AVG would become known to the world as the Flying Tigers.
In 1947 an Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) team went to the cemetery of St. Luke's Anglican Church in Toungoo, Burma. Thanks to information from the cemetery caretaker the AGRS team disinterred four sets of remains identified as AVG and transferred them to Barrackpore, India where autopsies were conducted on the skeletal remains and they were classified (as X-633,634,635,636) and re-buried. In late 1948 they were disinterred and transferred to Hawaii where, on Mar 22-23, 1949, they were interred in the Punchbowl Cemetery on Oahu, Hawaii. They rested in peace for 67 years until JPAC staff reviewed the files and notified 3 families. Through their efforts and many contacts with JPAC officials and congressmen the remains were disinterred on April 11, 2016 and DNA samples were immediately sent to the DNA ID Lab. Families were notified on January 4, 2017 that a positive ID had been made. The remains of X-634 have been positively identified as that of Maax C. Hammer, Jr. The families awaited the return of their long lost loved Tigers.....Maax was buried at Oakland Cemetery on March 21st. Peter Atkinson was buried on April 8th at Rosedale Cemetery, Martinsburg, WV. John Dean Armstrong will rejoin his family on June 17th in Hutchinson, KS.


Historic research by Tripp Alyn, cousin of Maax Hammer and chairman of the Historical & Museums Committee, AVG Flying Tigers Association.

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  • Created by: Tripp Alyn
  • Added: 9 Jun 2014
  • Find A Grave Memorial 131102067
  • Maree
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for 2LT Maax Curtis Hammer, Jr (27 Apr 1916–22 Sep 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 131102067, citing Oakland Cemetery, Carbondale, Jackson County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Tripp Alyn (contributor 47431564) .