99-year-old vet honored

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Editor's note: 99-year-old veteran Arnold Hansen is pictured in the middle.

The State of California proclaimed itself a "Purple Heart State" in April of 2012 and was the first in the nation to do so, according to Dennis Watkins, Military Order of the Purple Heart Veteran, Garden Grove resident and two time recipient of the Purple Heart.

Editor's note: 99-year-old veteran Arnold Hansen is pictured in the middle.

The State of California proclaimed itself a "Purple Heart State" in April of 2012 and was the first in the nation to do so, according to Dennis Watkins, Military Order of the Purple Heart Veteran, Garden Grove resident and two time recipient of the Purple Heart.

Watkins worked to have his city of Garden Grove be proclaimed the first city as a Purple Heart City; Anaheim was the second and now there are nine cities named Purple Heart Cities, with others scheduled to follow.

When Stanton Mayor Rigoberto "Rigo" Ramirez received a letter from Orange County Board of Supervisor Janet Nguyen recently, asking that Stanton be declared a Purple Heart City, the City Council Council took time to do just that at the last council meeting Tuesday, March 11.

Accepting the proclamation during the Stanton meeting was 99-year-old WWII Veteran Arnold "Arny" Hanson, along with MOPH Past Cmdr. and Adjutant Jim Pinnix, accepting the proclamation on behalf of all Purple Heart recipients in Orange County.

"The Purple Heart Medal is in honor of all of the state's veterans dead or alive, who have received the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat or those who paid the ultimate price with their lives," Watkins.

The Purple Heart motto is: "Some gave all — and all gave some."

Currently, there are 25 Purple Heart Chapters in the State of California in the State of Military Order of the Purple Heart, a Congressionally chartered organization.

After the State of California became a Purple Heart State, counties and cities started having themselves declared Purple Heart counties and cities.

The 752 chapters cover all of Orange County, which includes 125 registered members, with 400 known living Purple Heart recipients currently in Orange County.

"There are Purple Heart Recipients returning from Afghanistan, which is the only combat zone that the U.S. is deployed in right now; they are processed through the O.C. Veterans Service Office in Santa Ana, where we receive our updated information," Watkins said.

The city of Stanton applauded Mr. Hanson, a retired member of the U.S. Army in WWII because of his age.

Mr. Hanson said he was sworn into the Army Sept. 2, 1942 and began active duty Sept. 14, 1942.

"I was to be in 'limited service' because I was nearly bind from birth in my left eye," said Hanson.

Hanson said during the war, it took nearly seven men to support one infantry man, with cooks, maintenance, supplies, medical and administration.

His first assignment was with the Maintenance Detachment Corps of Engineers at Camp Young Deseret Training Center, 28 miles east of Indio (having been founded in part by Gen. George Patton).

In May of 1944, Hanson was assigned to the 3rd Signal Battalion."It was a line center action battalion," he said. "I wasn't supposed to leave the Continental U.S. because of my medical classification."

It ended up that Hanson served in the Pacific Theater in Okinawa, Japan, as a wire lineman, where his job was to hook up wires for military communications.

While hooking up wires in Okinawa, rocket fire took the telephone pole out from underneath him on April 21, 1945, knocking him first to his feet, then onto his backside, permanently injuring both of his ankles and his back.

"The plane that hit the telephone pole was so close to me, that I could see the face of the pilot looking at me; he wasn't after me, he was after the airbase installation," Hanson said.

Hanson was taken to a military installation in Tinian, the principal island of the  Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, where he stayed until late June, then went from there to Guam and back to Okinawa in early July.

While on the ship's hospital, Hanson said he was on the top bunk next to a porthole when he saw a Navy ship that he knew his brother was on; he asked if he could get a message to that ship and let his brother know he was on board. Within a few hours he received a visit from his brother.

Mr. Hanson said he served in the U.S. Army for three years, three months and 22 days.

Hanson said when the Great Depression came, farmers couldn't pay their bills and he knew there was nothing there for him, so he joined his older brother in Long Beach.

He met his wife, Geraldine "Geri," after he had already met her step-father while working at the J.W. Robinson's in Los Angeles. The step-father was in the credit department, with four telephone poles with the alphabet from a-d, e-k, l-r and s-z.

Robinson's charge customers would call the credit department switchboard within the alphabet, and the system needed re-wiring. "So, I was on the stepfather's team," Hanson said.

"My first job for Robinson's was in the parking lot with the cars. I worked on that area during the day and on the "charging and posting" area at night," Hanson said. "I put in long days and that family became friends and on Jan. 1, 1944, Geri and I married and she's been my bride and caretaker for 70 years."

After the Army, Hanson worked in the automotive paint factories for GM, Chrysler and Ford, when GM asked him to open a plant in England to train people. He worked there for four years, two in Belgium and went to England, France and Germany, returning to Detroit to manage a special project from 1971 to 1979, when he retired.

Arny Hanson and wife Geri, 90 reside in Anaheim.