CROSBY - Erwin "Bud" Hanson of Crosby remembers the Oscar.
"Our enemy was the Oscar. It was the Japanese army land-based fighter as the Zero was for the carrier-based navy. We gave them common American names," Hanson said.
"I did not see the Zero but I saw the Oscar," he said. He said that was when he was stationed at two westernmost islands in the Aleutians off Alaska. "I was Navy. I was landbased with a Navy patrol bomber squadron," he said.
Submitted Photo •
Erwin “Bud” Hanson, left, of Crosby, is shown here at the Bismarck airport on the way to Washington, D.C., in May 2009, on the Rough Rider Honor Flight which takes World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II monument and other monuments. At the right is C. Emerson Murry, former North Dakota adjutant general. Murry died Aug. 29.
Hanson recently got a look at the Zero when he visited the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot. He'd seen a Zero before but it brought back memories of his time in World War II as well as when he went on the Rough Rider Honor Flight in May 2009.
Hanson, who was born in Minneapolis, entered the Navy's V-5 aviation cadet flight program in July 1942 and graduated from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., in 1943 as an ensign and naval aviator.
"My first tour of duty - anti-sub patrols off the Atlantic Coast, then to Whidby Island, Wash., for duty with Patrol Bombing Squadron 139. Here we flew the Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon aircraft," he said.
Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to email@example.com.
The PV-2 was a patrol bomber, he said.
"We served on Attu Island in the Aleutians and there flew 23 combat patrols to the Kurile Islands north of Japan. On 10 of these patrols we met the enemy and were shot up. I'm happy to be here," he said.
Hanson then served as operations officer at Johnston Island, west of Hawaii, where he flew the SB2C Curtiss Helldiver, a dive bomber.
He was awarded the Air Medal with Gold Star in lieu of a second award after he returned to the states.
He did 10 years of active and reserve duty, achieving the rank of lieutenant (senior grade) U.S. Navy Reserve.
After the war, Hanson attended the University of Minnesota, then moved to Crosby and started farming. "My father homesteaded here in 1907, and I came up and started farming on that," he said.
He continued to fly. "I did spraying and quite a bit of flying in the reserves," he said. He also was a state senator from 1989 to 1991.
Hanson said those involved in the air museum in Minot are doing a fine job with all the planes and other items there. As for the Zero, a plane owned by Minot pilot Warren Pietsch and two partners which is the only Model 21 still flying in the world, he said, "It's a wonderful restoration."
He feels honored that he could be part of the first Rough Rider Honor Flight going out of Bismarck.
In his 2009 Christmas card Hanson wrote the highlight for him of the year 2009 was being on that flight to Washington, D.C., from Williston, to view the World War II memorial and other war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.
"This memorial was completed in May 2004 to honor all World War II veterans. I was privileged to be one of them," he said.
Hanson, who is 87, said he's looking forward to 88 in December.