Marine Corps Capt. Robert Hanson was a fearless fighter over the skies of the South Pacific throughout World War II. That bravery earned him a spot as one of many warfare's nice aces. He did not survive to make it house, however his efforts and management led to a posthumous Medal of Honor.
Hanson was born Feb. 4, 1920, in Lucknow, India, to Harry and Jean Hanson, who had been Methodist missionaries. Hanson had three brothers, all of whom additionally served throughout World War II, and a youthful sister. While he spent nearly all of his life in India, his household known as Newtonville, Massachusetts, house.
Hanson spent one 12 months of junior highschool within the U.S. earlier than returning along with his household to India. He attended highschool on the Woodstock School within the foothills of the Himalayas. During that point, he grew to become a champion wrestler and an all-around good athlete.
In the spring of 1938, after graduating highschool, Hanson was bicycling his method by Europe and was in Vienna, Austria, when the nation was annexed into Nazi Germany. He made his method again to the U.S., the place he attended Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hanson performed collegiate soccer, observe and tennis, based on the varsity's web site, and he was nonetheless enrolled when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
In the spring of 1942, Hanson was in his senior 12 months of school when he determined to go away to hitch the Marine Corps' aviation cadet program. After coaching with the twenty fifth Marine Fighting Squadron, he commissioned into the service as an aviator on Feb. 19, 1943.
Within months, 1st Lt. Hanson was shipped to the South Pacific, the place his fearlessness as a fighter pilot with Marine Fighting Squadron 215 rapidly grew to become well-known. According to his Medal of Honor quotation, he fought the Japanese "boldly and with daring aggressiveness."
On Nov. 1, 1943, Hanson was offering cowl for Allied touchdown operations at Empress Augusta Bay on Bougainville Island when he attacked six enemy torpedo bombers. According to his quotation, the Japanese plane had been compelled to jettison their bombs, and one of many planes was destroyed. Hanson himself needed to ditch his F4U Corsair within the bay after the struggle. He paddled for six hours in a rubber life raft earlier than being rescued by a destroyer.
Hanson's subsequent a number of kills got here the next January in a scorching streak that earned him the nickname "Butcher Bob." On Jan. 18, 1944, he shot down 5 enemy plane. On Jan. 24, Hanson introduced down 4 Japanese Zeros by himself after getting minimize off from his division whereas deep in enemy territory over northern New Britain, an island east of Papua New Guinea. On Jan. 30, he took out one other 4 enemy plane.
Unfortunately, he did not get the chance to take out extra. On Feb. 3, 1944, Hanson requested his captain if he might strafe enemy antiaircraft artillery positions on New Ireland, simply east of Rabaul, New Britain. During the mission, his aircraft crashed into the ocean. It was in the future wanting his twenty fourth birthday, and he was by no means seen once more.
However, within the quick period of time he spent combating, Hanson had grow to be a masterful air combatant and one of many Corps' highest scoring aces. Records present he downed 20 plane within the span of 13 days throughout six missions. His kill whole was 25, placing him simply behind the excessive scores of fellow aces Capt. Joe Foss and Col. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington.
On Aug. 19, 1944, Hanson's mom acquired the Medal of Honor on her son's behalf from Maj. Gen. Lewis G. Merritt throughout a ceremony in Boston. Hanson additionally acquired the Air Medal and Navy Cross and was posthumously promoted to the rank of captain.
Hanson's title is listed on the Wall of the Missing on the Manila Cemetery within the Philippines, in addition to on a memorial marker at Newton Cemetery in Newton Center, Massachusetts.
Hanson's life and legacy hasn't been forgotten. In 1944, his alma mater, Hamline University, posthumously awarded him the diploma he was engaged on. The following 12 months, the destroyer USS Hanson was commissioned and set sail. To this present day, the Robert M. Hanson Award, established in 1968, is given yearly to the Corps' finest fighter assault squadron by the Marine Corps Aviation Association.
This article is a part of a weekly sequence known as "Medal of Honor Monday," by which we spotlight one of many greater than 3,500 Medal of Honor recipients who've earned the U.S. navy's highest medal for valor.