Air Force Veteran Richard C. Derhammer, of Pasadena, Maryland, passed away on May 10, 2023.
Richard was born on November 3, 1942, to Lester T. Derhammer & Helen E. Derhammer (nee Steinhauer) at home in his hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Growing up, Richard always had an outgoing personality & adventurous spirit. He enjoyed every moment with family & friends, and an amazing historian.
Richard (aka Rich/ Dick) attended Dodson Elementary School. He graduated from G.A.R. Memorial High School, c/o 1960; member of National Honor Society & Drama Club (stage crew). During HS, with his brother Charles, he became a Cadet member of the Civil Air Patrol, Wilkes-Barre Squadron. 205; affiliated w/ Olmsted A.F.B., from 1957-1962. He achieved rank of Cadet/SMSgt; served as Squad Leader, Asst Flight Leader, Flight Leader, Communications Officer, Operations Officer, & Executive Officer. Richard had the honor of being nominated & accepted into the Air Force Academy (1960) but with the loss of his father; he chose to care for his family. He earned his associate degree in mechanical engineering at Wilkes College in 1963. He was employed at Wyoming Valley Airport, Forty Fort, PA. His dedicated work ethic & passion in engineering, communications, & logistics led him to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. During Richard’s early years in the Air Force, he became a special electronics technician, learning Microwave Radio Relay & Wideband Maintenance, troubleshooting end to end channels between military bases, job control monitoring all electronic systems, Radar, TACAN Aircraft Landing System, Air Traffic Control Tower monitor of official phone lines. During his 1st visit to Ramstein, he & his team were selected for duty in Northern Italy (Fall 1968); He chose the site in Conselve, Italy; Aviano A.B. Here he met the love of his life, Danilla Berto. He & his roommates had an apartment above a shirt factory, owned by Lugiano & Mirella Christiani. They became great friends & “Matchmaker” Mirella introduced Richard to Danilla in March 1969. She did not speak English, Richard spoke Italian. Protecting her daughter, Danilla’s mother would relocate her jobs frequently to sway Richard, but he always discovered her location. Through his respect for family, Richard earned the right of familial passage by spending time with her uncle, Fr. Don Pietro, & becoming a devout Catholic. With family & friends, they were married June 1970 at Duomo di San Lorenzo in Conselve.
As a military family, Dick & Danilla, lived in Europe & throughout the U.S. with their 3 children. He remained committed to his family, providing for everyone’s needs & supportive in every aspect. His Ground Communications career continued to expand. First to the Balearic Islands, Spain. His leadership & management ablilities resulted in major contributions to success and effectiveness of the Air Force quality control program. Next to Davidsonville, Maryland (support by Andrews A.F.B.) He then served as Quality Control Monitor, Detachment 23, 1945th Communications Group, Pruem Air Station, Germany. Next station was Carswell A.F.B, Texas. In Sahintepe, Turkey, he served in the U.S. Logistics Forces, as a NCO in Charge, Wideband Communications Maintenance of Defense Communications Systems users world-wide. At Griffiss A.F.B, New York, Richard served as Wideband Communications Equipment Mgr, Director of Maintenance Engineering, Communications-Electronics Network Maintenance Div, & Continental Communications Division; This included closed circuit television & security systems within the Air Force. Senior Master Sergeant Derhammer assigned to the 1964th Comm Group, Ramstein A.F.B., Germany from 1984-1989. Richard was Superintendent to six radio maintenance work centers & assets which supported Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Allied Air Forces Central Europe, 316th Air Division, and the 86th Tactical Fighter Wing. Robert H. Ludwig, Commander AFCC, stated, “His aggressive, can-do attitude has been singularly responsible for the success of the group.” His final assignment was at the Air Force Unit, National Security Agency, Ft. Meade, Maryland. A little over 27 years, SMSgt Richard Derhammer honorably retired.
Richard received several awards for his service in the U.S. Air Force March 1964-April 1991: Certificate of Appreciation from Commander In Chief, George Bush; Meritorious Service Medal; Air Force Commendation Medal w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award & 2 Oak Leaf Clusters; National Defense Service Medal; Air Force Overseas Tour Ribbon-Short w/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Force Overseas Tour Ribbon Long w/ 4 Oak Leaf Cluster; Air Force Longevity Service Award Ribbon w 1 Star Oak Leaf Cluster; Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon w Device; & Air Force Training Ribbon.
He continued his 2nd electronics & computer career in 1991, with The Army & Air Force Exchange Eastern Region. His final retirement was in 2010.
In addition to his service in U.S. Air Force, Richard participated in many activities overseas & stateside activities with his special needs son, Scott. He helped establish the Boy Scout Troop in Germany, sponsored by Field Training Detachment Air Force, Ramstein. He volunteered as Scoutmaster & asst Scoutmaster in Cub Scouts & Boy Scouts both in Germany & in Maryland. He participated in many Volksmarches, Special Olympic events. He attended church with family & most of his kids sporting events: Bowling, Soccer, Field Hockey. He participated in meetings related to special needs advocacy & fundraising events.
In addition to his parents, Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Daniela Derhammer in 2008, his sister, June Derhammer in 2021, & brother Charles Derhammer in 1996.
He is survived by his children: Barbara Wagner, Scott Derhammer, & Elisa (Michael) Owenby. He is also survived by grandchildren: Daniela C. Jeffries, Aiden C. Brock, & Addisyn Owenby ; Great grandchildren: Oliver, Nolan, & August Jeffries; Family in Italy, and several nieces, nephews, & cousins.
Relatives & Friends are invited to attend viewing, June 1, 2023, 2pm-6pm at McCully Polyniak & Collins Funeral Home, 3204 Mountain Rd, Pasadena MD 21122. The Rev. Dr. David G. Oravec will officiate the service from 6pm-630pm. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at future date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations in honor of Richard C. Derhammer to: H.A.P., P.O. Box 853, Glen Burnie, MD 21060 (this is Scott’s bowling league Handicapp Athletic Program; 101 members bowl. It is non-profit & tax exempt with many volunteers).