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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

“The Old Nighthawk” - Mac Manning Succumbs To Cancer

“The Old Nighthawk” - Mac Manning Succumbs To Cancer

“His CB call sign was one of the easiest to remember and most distinctive on the local ‘net’ - “The KSG Double Five, Double Eight - The Old Nighthawk” - DRH

By Dell Hill

My good friend “Mac” Manning died last Friday.  He was 88 years old and it took cancer to finally silence his golden voice.  

Unless you’re a local reader, you’ve probably never heard of Mac.  But I really need to honor this man because he and I go back over 60 years and our relationship was special.

Mac and his wife of 61 years, Ida, were close friends with one of my sisters and her husband as members of the local Civil Defense group, as well as charter members of “Weather Watchers”.  They got together each summer at a local campground and spent many hours of relaxation and each became an instant adopted member of the other’s family.  They were that close.  At the time, I was just a snot-nosed kid, but I fondly recall the many outings we all enjoyed at the lake and, especially, the camaraderie we shared.

In time, I learned how to swim, water ski, become a good fisherman and developed a great appreciation for nature and the outdoors because of folks like Mac Manning.  He was more like an uncle to me and will be greatly missed.

Born Malcom Monroe Manning, February 17, 1924, the man everyone knew as “Mac”, was known for his infectious “I’ll bet you can’t guess what I just did” smile and a resonate bass voice that was instantly recognized on a number of radio frequencies from HAM to Citizen’s Band.  His CB call sign was one of the easiest to remember and most distinctive on the local ‘net’ - “The KSG Double Five, Double Eight - The Old Nighthawk”.

As an adult, and on several occasions, that man’s voice was music to my ears.

As a uniformed police officer, patrolling a hundred miles of rural town roads in Vermont is often a very lonely experience.  Because of what’s known as ground factor (mostly mountains), radio signals often go unheard, and that’s not a comforting thought when you’re in an emergency situation and need all kinds of assistance.  Backup officers, ambulances, fire apparatus, the jaws of life...and all other such things simply aren’t available if you can’t communicate with a dispatch office.  That’s where people like Mac Manning came in.

Mac monitored the local frequencies and had an especially keen ear for certain words he knew signaled a true emergency and an officer in need of help.  He never once hesitated to answer those calls and forward information via the telephone to the police dispatch center.  He also seemed to be awake and alert 24 hours a day!

I have no way of proving it, but the conscientious, public spirited Mac Manning undoubtedly was responsible for saving several lives, including perhaps my own, because he was always there when it mattered most.  

Because of his radio expertise, Mac helped me greatly in acquiring an FCC First Class Radio/Telephone Operators License - a license he, himself, held and one that very few communications experts are willing to tackle.

Mac Manning was a Charter Life member of VFW Post #9653 in Morrisville, Vermont and, quite sadly, was the last living Charter Member.  

He was also a Charter Life Member and first Commander of the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 20 in Morrisville.  

He was also a Life Member of American Legion Post #33 in Morrisville.

Mac joined the United States Army in 1943 and served in Italy during World War II.  He sustained serious head wounds in that war, but never let on to anyone just how difficult his life had been because of those wounds.

Mac Manning was among the last of the “Greatest Generation” and his contributions will be duly recognized for many years to come.

Malcom “Mac” Manning - 1924 - 2012.  Rest In Peace, my friend.  My thoughts and prayers are with Ida and their family.

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