Brig. Gen. Stanley W. Hemstreet

Retired Brigadier General Stanley W. Hemstreet, former commander for the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, NY, passed away after a short illness on Sunday, January 20, 2008, surrounded by his large and loving family.  Born in Schaghticoke on May 22, 1925, the son of Edna Wendt Hemstreet and Ellsworth Hemstreet, Gen. Hemstreet lived on his family farm on Hemstreet Road in Schaghticoke all of his life.  He graduated in 1943 from Hoosic Valley High School – then known as Schaghticoke High School - and immediately joined the US Army Air Corps for flight training.  He graduated from pilot training as a Second Lieutenant in April 1945.  From 1946 to 1948, he attended Spartan School of Aeronautics in Oklahoma, then returned to Schaghticoke.

General Hemstreet retired as Base Commander of the 109th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard in Scotia in 1985, having started 37 years earlier as the third person to be hired at the base.  His first assignment was as an aircraft engine mechanic.  His later roles included Unit Supply Officer; Base Supply, Property and Fiscal Officer; and Chief of Maintenance.  He then became Director of Operations, and in 1971 became Base Commander.  As commander, Gen. Hemstreet was instrumental in bringing the C-130 “ski birds” to the 109th, which took on the mission of providing fuel and supplies to US outposts in Greenland, and later the mission of supplying South Pole Station in Antarctica.  In a ceremony held on October 13th of last year, the 109th  honored Gen. Hemstreet's distinguished service to the unit by naming a main road on the base Hemstreet Highway.

Over the course of his career he flew the F-47 Thunderbolt and F-51 Mustang fighters, the C-47 and C-97 transports, the T-33 jet trainer, the F-80 and F-86 fighter jets, and the C-130 transport (in both airdrop and ski-equipped models).  He also became an instructor and flight examiner for both the C-97 and C-130.

Among the many highlights of his career, he was the aircraft commander for the first plane to arrive in Berlin as part of the 1961 Berlin Call-up.  He also flew many missions into Vietnam during the Vietnam War.    When he retired he had set the Air Force record as the pilot with the longest time on flying status, forty two years, and had logged more than 10,000 flying hours.


In civilian life, he was a very active member of the Schaghticoke community, serving as President of the Hoosic Valley School Board and a long-standing member of the Hoosic Valley Volunteer Fire Company.  He also was one of the original organizers of the Willard Mountain Ski Area, and President for the past twenty years of the Knickerbocker Historical Society, working to preserve the Knickerbocker Mansion.  He was also an active farmer throughout his life, running the family farm in Schaghticoke until his death.

His proudest accomplishment, however, was his family.  He was predeceased by his sister Ruth Jean Hemstreet Burton and his granddaughter Emma Elizabeth Durrant.  He is survived by his wife of nearly sixty years, Aileen Aldrich Hemstreet; five children, Stana Iseman and husband Robert, Aileen Durrant and husband John, Leslie Allen and husband Eric, Steven Hemstreet and wife Joanne, and Hollie McNeil and husband Michael, and seventeen grandchildren:  Robert, Nathan and wife Jeannie, Rebeckah, Christine, Susan, Scott, and John Iseman; Gregory and Alida Durrant; Robin, Eben, Ethan, and Clayton Allen; Jacob Hemstreet; and Alex Andrea, Sean, and Maxwell McNeil; and several nieces and nephews.

Calling hours will be at the Stratton Air National Guard Base from 2 pm to 8 pm on Wednesday, January 23.  A memorial service will be held at the base at 10 am on Thursday, January 24.  Mourners are asked to use the Maple Ave. entrance.  Base security will provide directions for parking.

After the memorial service on Thursday, Gen. Hemstreet will be buried with full military honors at Elmwood Cemetery in Schaghticoke.  Memorial donations should be made to the Knickerbocker Historical Society, Inc., Box 29, Schaghticoke, NY 12154.






Passing of a gentleman, warrior

Brig. Gen. Stanley Hemstreet, a pioneering pilot, dies at 82; was commander at Stratton air base


By DENNIS YUSKO, Staff writer

First published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SCHAGHTICOKE -- Military pioneer and retired Brig. Gen. Stanley Hemstreet built about everything at his 250-acre family farm in Rensselaer County -- from the home itself to its Cold War-era bomb shelter and concrete pool.

To install the home's oak floors, Hemstreet used lumber he acquired from an old schoolhouse. He used everything he could from the school, including its bricks.

So when the family farmer and former commander of the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia fell ill recently, he and his family decided to carve a casket for him from cherry wood found on the farm.

The decision reflected the famously practical and homespun side of the former fighter pilot and "father" of the Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing. He died Sunday in St. Peter's Hospital in Albany after a short illness. He was 82 and surrounded by nearly 30 family members.

Hemstreet spent his whole life on Edgewood Farm in Schaghticoke, and more than four decades helping to build the airlift wing into what it is today.

"He was a true citizen soldier, the farmer, the gentleman, the statesman and a military commander all the way," said Col. Edward Kinowski, vice commander of the 109th Airlift Wing.

After graduating from pilot training and aeronautic classes, Hemstreet became the third person ever hired at Stratton during its first year of existence, in 1948. After serving as a mechanic, fighter pilot and more, Hemstreet was named base director and then commander in 1971.

Among the highlights of his career, Hemstreet was the aircraft commander for the first plane to arrive in Berlin as part of the 1961 Berlin Airlift, family members said. He flew many missions in Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

When he retired, Hemstreet had set the Air Force record as the pilot with the longest flying status -- 42 years -- and had logged more than 10,000 flying hours, according to family. He flew numerous planes, from fighter jets to transports.

As commander, Hemstreet helped initiate the 109th's biggest peacetime missions. He brought the C-130 "ski birds" to the 109th, and initiated its mission of providing fuel and supplies to U.S. outposts in Greenland. He also was involved with the initial planning of supplying the South Pole Station in Antarctica, Kinowski said.

Hemstreet retired in 1985. On Oct. 13, the 109th honored him by naming the Scotia base's main road "Hemstreet Highway."

In later years, Hemstreet continued working on his farm and the nearby farm of his daughter, Holly McNeil.

"He did everything he wanted to do," daughter Aileen Durrant said. "He always rose to the challenge. If something was simple, it wasn't any fun."

Six of Hemstreet's 17 grandchildren have joined the military, McNeil said. "That's how much his legacy and memory carries on," she said.

On Tuesday, Hemstreet's son, Steven, and three grandchildren put finishing touches on the cherry-wood casket.

Hemstreet's body lay in the Hemstreet home with an American flag draped over it on Tuesday. The body will be placed atop some hay in the homemade casket for calling hours, to be held from 2 to 8 p.m. today at the Stratton base.

A memorial service is slated at the base for 10 a.m. Thursday. Hemstreet requested to be buried at Elmwood Cemetery and that no tears be shed for his death.

"My dad would yell at us all if we cried," McNeil said.



All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2008, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.


Daily Gazette article

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Guardsman remembered for his commitment, dedication

By Justin Mason

General who pioneered 109th mission dies

— From his grade school days, Stanley Hemstreet was determined to fly airplanes.

The Schaghticoke native signed up for the Army Air Corps before graduating from high school in 1943 and was about to be shipped overseas when World War II came to an end in 1945. After two more years of aeronautics schooling in Oklahoma, Hemstreet returned to his hometown a second lieutenant and applied for a job at a new National Guard base opening in Glenville.

But the flood of post-war pilots quickly filled all the aviator spots at the 109th Airlift Wing and left only a few spaces at the base for mechanics, restricted to enlisted men. The Guard ultimately gave Hemstreet a choice: either retain his commission and keep looking for a job or accept a demotion and start a different line of work.

“So he resigned his commission and became an enlisted man,” recalled Stana Iseman, his eldest daughter.

Within a year, Hemstreet was back in the cockpit at the 109th, the unit he would fly with and eventually command until his retirement 37 years later, in 1985. Hemstreet, the third person ever hired at the base and the man affectionately known as the “father of the 109th,” died Sunday at the age of 82.

As base commander, Hemstreet is credited with bringing in the unit’s trademark C-130 transports equipped with ski landing gear and establishing supply missions to both polar icecaps. When he retired from the Guard, he set the record for the longest time on active flying status — 42 years.

“The missions he brought to the 109th have kept the 109th here for as long as it’s been,” said Col. Edward Kinowski, the vice commander of the 109th. “He emulates what I would call the true citizen soldier.”

On the eve of his retirement, Hemstreet was promoted to brigadier general, a post the Guard had offered to him several times during his service. He passed on the promotion each time because it meant he would relinquish his flying duties, Iseman said.

“He was happiest when he was flying,” she said.

Among his more than 10,000 hours of flight time, Hemstreet was the first pilot from the 109th to airlift supplies into Berlin during the unit’s service there in 1961. He also flew numerous supply missions into Vietnam during that war.

However, Hemstreet’s legacy isn’t limited to the military. He operated his family’s farm in Schaghticoke, raising beef and dairy cattle, corn and other crops.

Even while he was active in the Guard, Iseman said, her father would wake at dawn each day to tend the dairy cows. She said her father was always fully charged and ready to tackle the day.

“He’d already done a half-day of work before he got to the base,” she said. “And he’d hit the ground running.”

Longtime friend and neighbor Warren McGreevy remembered Hemstreet as a man who was utterly committed to whatever he set out to do. He said his neighbor’s determination was often contagious.

Hemstreet was also a descendant of the Knickerbockers and an instrumental member of the Knickerbocker Historical Society, an all-volunteer group dedicated to restoring the family’s historic mansion. The former president of the society, he led the effort raise more than $800,000 to restore the mansion.

An avid skier, Hemstreet helped build the lodges and cut the trails for the Willard Mountain Ski Area in Washington County. In fact, Iseman said, an old engine from her father’s truck once powered the first tow lift up the mountain.

But above all, friends and family recall Hemstreet as a consummate family man. Whenever he was unable to be with his family, Iseman said her father always made sure to return with both his sense of adventure and his tales from abroad.

“He led us along on the adventures either verbally with what he was telling us or with what we were doing,” she said.

Calling hours will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. today at the Stratton Air National Guard Base where a memorial service is planned at 10 a.m. on Thursday. Burial with full military honors will follow at the Elmwood Cemetery in Schaghticoke.