Salute to Service - A1C William "BJ" Hannigan
Air National Guard
December 18, 1987 – November 12, 2012
Represented by Adam Butler and Danny Shelton
United States Air Force Airman First Class William J. "BJ" Hannigan was born in Portland, Maine on December 18, 1987. He grew up in Portland and graduated from Cheverus High School. His nickname was BJ, for Bill Junior. His sister, Alyx, always called him Beej. BJ died on November 12, 2012 in a private plane crash in Maine while on active duty.
Beej had a drive for adventure that stayed with him throughout his whole life. His childlike sense of wonder and playfulness never left him, even in adulthood. His love for airplanes and flying began at a young age. The first time he flew a plane he was 12 years old and took a flight in the back seat of a T-6 (WW2 trainer plane). Somewhere over Lake Champlain the pilot told him to take over and he flew the plane. Things were never the same for him after that.
AIC Hannigan attended the University of Maine where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering and was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity. Beej had the opportunity to join the Air National Guard and work at the local air base. He loved his work and the people he worked with. He knew he belonged up in the sky and this led him to apply to and eventually be accepted into the pilot training program for the US Air Force, but he unfortunately never had the chance to take on this next adventure.
He lit up talking about planes, his friends and family, and his future. His smile will be forever etched in our minds as it radiated a joy so pure and raw you could feel it. More impressive than his drive, determination, and willingness to selflessly serve his country, was his drive to serve others each day of his life. Even from childhood he viewed the world with a wisdom well beyond his years. He was the one who would stand up for a classmate being bullied, who would lead others to do better not by force but by his words and his actions. He was a role model to everyone he met. He did, and still does, drive all who knew him to be kinder, more thoughtful, more compassionate, and above all to enjoy life.
BJ also had a love for sports from a young age and played soccer, basketball, hockey, baseball and football. Once he got to high school he chose to play hockey, baseball, and football. He loved the Boston Red Sox, Bruins, and the New England Patriots. He initially wanted to play football because he knew the training was intense and he thought this would get him in shape for hockey. He ended up loving football and as a sophomore his teammates voted him to be a captain for the upcoming year. This was the first time a sophomore had ever been voted captain, as usually only upcoming seniors were voted captain. This is just one example of a time when others saw his incredible leadership abilities.