Hansen, Henry Oliver “Hank”.

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Hansen, Henry Oliver “Hank”, born 14-12-1919, in Somerville, Massachusetts, to Henry T. Hansen (1891-1966) and Madeline T., born Dwyer (1895-1970), with one sister and three brothers, graduated from Somerville High School in 1938 and joined the Marine Corps.

Henrry volunteered for the Paramarines, which were formed in 1942, and became a Marine parachutist. He fought in the Bougainville Campaign in 1943. In February 1944, the Paramarines were disbanded and he was transferred to Third Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, 5th Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California.

Hansen landed with the 5th marine Division on Iwo Jima, on 19-02-1945. He landed with his rifle company and battalion at the southern end of Iwo Jima where Mount Suribachi is located.

On February 23 at 8 AM, First Lieutenant Harold Schrier, the E Company executive officer, led a 40-man combat patrol with members mostly of Third Platoon, E Company, up Mount Suribachi to seize and occupy the crest. Schrier was to raise the Second Battalion’s American flag to signal that the mountaintop was captured. Harold Schrier survived the war and died 03-06-1971, age 54, in Bradenton, Manatee County, Florida  Once on top, a section of a Japanese water pipe was found that became the flagstaff for the flag. Lieutenant. Schrier, Sergeant. Hansen, and Colonel Charles Willard Lindberg , tied the flag unto the pipe (with the help of Platoon Sergeant Ernest Ivy “Boots Thomas, and Private. Phil Lavon Ward who held the pipe). The flagstaff was then carried to the highest position on the crater. At approximately 10:20-10:35 a.m. Lieutenant Schrier, Platoon Sergeant. Thomas, and Sergeant Hansen, raised and planted the flagstaff on windy Mount Suribachi. Seeing the raising of the national colors immediately caused loud cheering with some gunfire from the Marines, sailors, and coast guardsmen on the beach below and from the men on the ships near the beach; the ships whistles and horns went off too.  Marine Staff Sergeant. Lou Lowery’s photograph of the first U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi, after it was raised. Left to right: 1st Lieutenant. Harold G. Schrier (left side of radioman), Private. Raymond Jacobs (radioman), Sergeant. Henry Hansen (soft cap, holding flagstaff), Private Phil Ward (holding lower flagstaff), Peleton Sergeant. Ernest Thomas (seated), PhM2c. John Henry Bradley  Doc ,

USN (standing above Private. Ward, holding flagstaff) Private James Randy Michels  (holding M1 carbine), and Corporal. Charles W. Lindberg (standing above Michels). Phil Lavon Ward survived the war and died 28-12-2005 age 79, in McAllen, Texas, but Sergeant Ernest Ivy “Boots Thomas, on 03-03-1945, was killed by enemy sniper rifle fire at the north side of Iwo Jima

The first flag was replaced about or over two hours later on the same day with a larger flag attached onto another steel pipe. The replacement flag was raised by four Marines from Second Platoon, E Company, a Marine runner for E Company who climbed up Mount Suribachi with the flag, and a Marine who was present at the first flag-raising; the second flag went up at the same instant the first flag was taken down. The black and white photograph of the second flag raising by Joe Rosenthal

of the Associated Press became world famous. Marine combat photographer, Sergeant William Homer “Bill” Genaust who had accompanied Rosenthal and Marine photographer Private Robert Campbell, here left, up Mount Suribachi, filmed the second flag raising in color. After the replacement flag was raised, sixteen Marines including Schrier, Hansen, and two Navy corpsmen (John Bradley and another corpsman from the 40-man patrol), posed together for Rosenthal around the base of the flagstaff.

On February 24, Lieutenant Schrier ordered Platoon Sergeant. Thomas to report early the next morning to Navy Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly “Terrible” Turner   and Marine Lieutenant General Holland McTyeire “Howland Mad” Smith (both saw the first flag raising) aboard the flagship USS Eldorado (AGC-11) about the flag raising on Mount Suribachi. During a CBS radio news interview aboard ship, Thomas named Sergeant. Hansen to the interviewer as one of the actual flag-raisers besides Lieutenant Schrier and himself. Rosenthal’s photograph of the second raising appeared in the newspapers the same day as Thomas’s interview.

Though ultimately victorious, the American victory at Iwo Jima had come at a terrible price. According to the Navy Department Library, “the 36-day assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead.” By comparison, the much larger scale 82-day Battle of Okinawa lasting from early April until mid-June 1945 (involving five U.S. Army and two Marine Corps divisions) resulted in over 62,000 U.S. casualties, of whom over 12,000 were killed or missing. Iwo Jima was also the only U.S. Marine battle where the American casualties exceeded the Japanese, although Japanese combat deaths numbered three times as many as American deaths. Two U.S. Marines were captured during the battle, neither of whom survived their captivity. The USS Bismarck Sea was also lost, the last U.S. aircraft carrier sunk in World War II. 20 Grumman FM-2 Wildcat fighters and 11 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers went down with Bismarck Sea. Also, the USS Saratoga was so severely damaged that she no longer took part in either combat or transportation duties for the rest of the war. She became a training ship. 31 Grumman F6F Hellcat fighters and 9 Grumman TBM Avenger torpedo bombers were destroyed by the kamikaze attack on Saratoga. Because all civilians had been evacuated, there were no civilian casualties at Iwo Jima, unlike at Saipan and Okinawa.

Death and burial ground of Hansen, Henry Oliver “Hank”.

Sergeant “Hank” Hansen was killed in action on Iwo Jima on 01-03-1945, age  25, Sergeant Hansen, Platoon Sergeant Thomas, and the three second flag-raisers who were killed on Iwo Jima were buried in the 5th Marine Division cemetery on the island. The battle of Iwo Jima officially ended on 26-03-1945, and the next day the 28th Marines left the island for Hawaii. Hansen’s final burial was at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific near Honolulu on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Section O, Grave 392.


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