Hanscom community invited to remember three former employees

  • Published
  • By Mark Wyatt
  • 66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – 66th Air Base Group officials will remember three deceased former base employees during a ceremony here Oct. 15 beginning at 10 a.m. at Hanscom Heroes Memorial Park.

Bronze plaques will display the names of Senior Airman Jason Khai Phan, Maurice O’Donnell and Chris Simpson at the foot of three trees that were recently planted in the park located beside the base clinic.

“The Hanscom community is invited to attend a tree dedication for these former employees who contributed greatly to the installation,” said Bobby Jacques, organizer of this event.

Hanscom Heroes Memorial Park opened in 1991 to recognize late members of the Hanscom community. With the dedication of three trees this month, the total number of trees honoring former Hanscom military and civilian personnel will be 79.

Senior Airman Jason Khai Phan

Phan, a member of the 66th Security Forces Squadron, was originally from Anaheim, California. He was killed in a non-combat related accident last year while serving overseas in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“He was a gentleman, a true patriot and a loyal friend, and I believe we’re all stronger people for knowing him,” said Maj. Shane Watts, former 66 SFS commander, during a memorial ceremony for the fallen Airman. “He will always be a part of this [66 SFS] family, and will always have a place in our hearts.”

Phan was scheduled to attend the Military Working Dog Handler Course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas, following his deployment. He was posthumously recognized as a graduate shortly after his death.

In October 2020, SFS senior leaders dedicated the squadron’s military working dog training grounds to Phan, officially naming it the “SrA Phan Obedience Yard.”

Maurice O’Donnell

O’Donnell was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1953. He served 44 years in the Department of the Air Force in uniform and as a federal civilian employee at Hanscom.

He began his career as an enlisted jet engine mechanic working on the flight line. O’Donnell then commissioned as a second lieutenant after graduating from the University of New Hampshire with an electrical engineering degree. Following his retirement from active duty, he joined the Hanscom civilian workforce in 2006 and served in several engineering leadership positions while as an employee here.

“His reputation as the consummate professional, leader and mentor for young engineers grew and grew,” said David Genovese, Survivable Air Operations Division chief engineer, who nominated O’Donnell. “He became a key leader in the engineering workforce here at Hanscom - someone people sought for advice and mentorship.”

Chris Simpson

Simpson was born in 1965 and grew up in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Simpson began his Air Force career by attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Following graduation in 1987, Simpson came to Hanscom as a program manager and systems engineer. As a company grade officer, he managed the Space Defense Operations Center program, a 1990s-era command and control system.

Simpson went on to serve in the 66th Civil Engineering Squadron after earning his master’s degree from Harvard University in engineering science with an emphasis in civil and environmental engineering.

“Chris stood out as a leader and was someone whom others depended on,” said Michael Symock, Cyber and IT Infrastructure Operations Branch deputy chief, who worked with Simpson. “Chris and his teams were recognized for their outstanding contributions to Hanscom and the community.”

According to Symock, Simpson strengthened environmental awareness at Hanscom by implementing the annual Shawsheen River Cleanup, initiating a bike-to-work program, leading Arbor Day observances on the installation and other community events.

For further information about this year’s tree dedication ceremony, contact Jacques at 781-225-1333.