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Letter from Earl H. Hansen
From a letter to the late Dan Schmocker
 


Cornstalk, WV 
January 11, 1997


Dear Dan & Fellow Shipmates:

    I am writing this letter of remembrance on my 75th birthday. I am thankful to reach that milestone.
First, I want to say how glad I was to meet my old shipmates at the reunion, although none of the faces looked familiar, some of the names rang a bell.

    My daughter, my son-in-law and my wife and I enjoyed the reunion very much. Dan, you did a good job organizing it. Now I want to thank you for the USS Rich cap you sent me and the tee shirt I received. I treasure them.

    I enlisted in the Navy September 24,1942, at Charleston, WV. I was sent to Jacksonville, FL Naval Air Station for six weeks of boot camp. It was a new camp and I was in Platoon No.5.1 was assigned to a seaman guard unit. My duty was a station escort. I did this for one and a half years. We had a retired boatswains mate as our chief a real old salt. He kept telling us what soft duty we had. Of course, I thought every sailor should have sea duty.

    I saw on the bulletin board that electricians were needed so I took a short course in electronics, took a test and made EM 3/c. Right away I was transferred to New York, to board the USS Rich about the middle of March. 1 was assigned duty in the aft engine room with George Lucas. What a wonderful guy. He taught me all that I knew about the ship. I was so sorry to hear of his passing.

    I attended a two day school at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, fighting a simulated engine room fire. I thought that was the worst the Navy could offer. This was before D-Day plus Two. There I learned what Navy life could be!

    I made two trips to Londonderry. Frank Wolf and I were on liberty the night the shore patrol were rounding up the crew. We knew something was about to happen. Everything has been told so well by the other boys, just as I remember them, so I will not bore you with my memories. My CQ station was loader on no.2 antiaircraft gun on the starboard side. I remember the stern be mg blown off, the steaming torpedoes and the second mine that cut her in two. I also remember being transferred from an LST to railroad cars, and then to an Army ambulance, to a hospital. I think it was in Wales and was the 82nd General Army Hospital.

    I was in a ward with paratroopers, all with chest injuries. I had seven broken ribs, a punctured lung, internal injuries and an injured knee from the concussion. I was treated real well by the Army doctors. I was in this hospital until July 30th or 31st. They gave me a soldiers uniform. I remember putting it on and tying the tie like you tie a Navy neckerchief The soldiers got a laugh out of that.

    I was put on the Army Hospital Ship Wisteria for the trip to Charleston, SC hospital. There were a couple more of the Rich crew on the Wisteria but I cannot remember their names. I was at the Charleston hospital from about August 14th or 15th until October 14, 1944, when I was discharged.

    I have had a good life since my Navy days. My wife and I will celebrate our 55th wedding anniversary this year. We have two daughters, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. I have been a livestock dealer most of my life, still have a farm, cut wood and build fences.


Earl H. Hanson

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