When Trygve Hanson joined the army on April 14, 1941, he was given a choice. Would he like to be stationed in Panama or Hawaii? The answer was easy, Hawaii.
About eight months later, he might have regretted his decision. On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, he was having breakfast in the mess hall at the Pearl Harbor Military base when explosions rocked the base. Hanson ran outside to witness the carnage by the Japanese fighter planes, bombers and torpedo planes, which destroyed the U. S. Naval facility. Trygve survived that day but 2,403 Americans were killed including many civilians. Eight U.S. Navy ships were destroyed and four sunk. Among them was the U. S. S. Arizona. The country was shocked and a day later, the U. S. declared war on Japan and entered WWII.
Sgt. Hanson went on to command a 22-man crew in charge of an anti-aircraft gun on rails. He trained personnel in the use and maintenance of the gun and “was responsible for the deployment, protection and general welfare of the crew,” according to his discharge papers. He spent three years at Pearl Harbor at Fort Kamehameha. We was discharged on Sept. 20, 1945.
In 1947, he moved to Ashton, where he farmed, married his wife, Louise and then became an employee of the village for 16 years. On April 12, 2016, the village honored Hanson, as a survivor of Pearl Harbor. A color guard from the American Legion, the mayor, village trustees, family members and friends were on hand for the ceremony and unveiling of a sign in his honor. His son, Hilo, presented a history of his father’s service.
Trygve Hanson was born on March 30, 1916, in Creston. He was one of 15 children born to Norwegian immigrants. Trygve is Norwegian for “trustworthy” but his friends, co-workers and citizens of Ashton knew him as “Red,” due to his dark red hair. He died on March 1, 1985.
Hilo said his father never talked much about the war. But one thing left an indelible impression on him.
“My dad told friends the Hilo, Hawaii, was the most beautiful place he had every been in. If I have a kid, I’m going to call him Hilo,” he said. That wish came true on Oct. 19, 1949, when his son was born. Hilo is a 1967 graduate of Ashton High School and retired from the Caterpillar Corporation, after 33 years. He and his wife, Sue, a retired teacher from the Hinckley-Big Rock School District, live in Plano.
Hilo, Hawaii is the largest city on the island of Hawaii. The town overlooks Hilo Bay and is near Mauna Loa, an active volcano, and the site of an astrological observatory.
Hilo and his father were in Hawaii in 1981, for the 40thanniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack and visited the Arizona Memorial. As Dec. 7 approaches, it’s important to remember our Greatest Generation and the sacrifices men and women made to keep the world safe from tyranny.