Mechanical Engineering – 1943
Fiske Hanley II grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and attended Paschal High School. Upon graduation, Hanley attended North Texas Agricultural College – now the University of Texas at Arlington – where he earned an associate’s degree in aeronautical engineering. He then came to Lubbock in 1940 to study aeronautical engineering.
Just 12 hours after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1943, Hanley left on a train for basic training. Nine months later, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant. Assigned as a B-29 flight engineer, he was attached to the 504th Bombardment Group (VH). In January 1945, they flew their new B-29 to Tinian Island in the Pacific and began bombing missions over Japan. On the seventh mission, their plane was shot down. Hanley arrived on Japanese soil via parachute, where he began his harrowing experience as a special prisoner of war.
Hanley was captured by the Japanese Kempeitai and was kept in overcrowded, filthy dungeons cells in Tokyo. He and the other soldiers were not treated as Prisoners of War but were designated as Special Prisoners. While awaiting trial they were considered subhuman — starved on half POW rations, issued no clothes or basic hygienic needs, denied medical treatment and allowed to suffer and die from torture. He endured these conditions for six months before being liberated.
After the war, Hanley went on to have a successful career as an engineer for General Dynamics. During his time as an engineer for the company, Hanley spent many years in the area of manufacturing technology. He managed the Instrument Unit stage of NASA’s Saturn V Moon rocket and pioneered the use of advanced composite materials for aircraft.
Hanley was also heavily involved in the design and development of the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft and traveled worldwide to provide technical support for the F-16’s European users.
He retired in 1989 after 44 years with the company. He then went on to write and publish two books, “Accused American War Criminal,” an autobiography about his time as a special prisoner of war, and “The History of the 504th Bomb Group (VH) in World War II.”
Hanley and his wife Peggy currently live in Fort Worth, Texas. He has three children from his marriage to his late wife Betty.