Lakeside Bank 2022.July
6-19-2013-3-32-37-PM-5575311

WW II Soldier Survives D-Day And Explosion

(This is the fourth of a series of stories that will focus on the ÒGreatest Generation, veterans of World War II, and also recollections of how life was during the 1930s and the Great Depression.)

Long-time Oak Lawn resident and World War II hero Lawrence Hansen was 21 years old when he was drafted into the United States Army.

What started out as a seemingly harmless three month commitment, however, quickly turned into anything but. Four years and several countries later, Hansen returned home having survived a devastating barrack explosion that killed 19 of his men and left him trapped beneath debris for days.

Hansen entered the Army on April 5, 1941, and was placed into the Army’s coast artillery unit. After minimal training at Fort Sheridan in Lake County, Ill., Hansen and his unit traveled to Virginia and then to Morehead City, N.C., where they were stationed in an old Civil War fort. There, he and his men were responsible for protecting the United States from invasion by German submarine saboteurs.

ÒI carried a very big gun,” Hansen recalls, Òa Browning automatic rifle.”

Soon thereafter, his unit was shipped to Nova Scotia by rail and then to Northeast Iceland, where they guarded a fjord that had a naval tanker that was fueling ships traveling to Murmansk, Russia.

Hansen explained that anti-submarine gates across the fjord were used to protect the submarines from coming in, but they also had guns to keep the German battleships from coming too close.

ÒThey never made an attempt, but occasionally German bombers came overhead from Normandy and we’d have to fire shots at them,” Hansen explains.

From Iceland he and his unit made their way to England, where they began to prepare for the invasion of Germany. Despite weeks of training proper execution, more modern equipment arrived and was used in the first wave of invasions.

Instead, he and his men went in on June 16, 1944, or ÒD +10″ days later. They landed on Omaha Beach in France, and on their very first night there they shot down a German pilot flying an American P-38 plane.

Because the area was considered a Òno-fly zone,” even for friendly aircraft, Hansen and his men knew that it could not have been an American pilot, and they were right.

Apparently, a German unit had overtaken a British airfield in Africa and it was there that they got these planes.

It was a few months later when Hansen would experience the event that earned him his Purple Heart.

In November, his unit, alongside General George S. Patton, reached the German border and set up camp in a French artillery camp that had been overtaken by Germans.

Hansen remembers exactly what General Patton told them as they reached their destination.

ÒYou have gone to Normandy to here without any rest. Go into this camp and clean your vehicles and ammunition.”

Though the engineers had said the building was safe, a woman had entered the building and flipped a light switch that set off the timers for a bomb that was planted underneath the stairs. Because there was no electricity, none of the men paid attention to the position of the light switch.

Despite the tragic loss of lives that fateful evening, this story is one of hope, fate, and survival.

As Hansen’s daughter, Karen Hansen, helped explain, her father and his roommate slept in bunk beds, and Hansen slept on the top bunk. That night, however, he had night watch so his roommate offered to switch beds so that Hansen would not have to climb over him when he came in.

As fate would have it, when the building blew up, the ceiling collapsed, the soldier on the top was killed, and Hansen was cushioned between the bunk beds.

For three days Hansen laid below the rubble. A big piece of wood had punctured his cheek and mortar dust was entering his mouth, forcing him to breathe through his cheek.

ÒAfter the explosion I didn’t really think I was going to get out of there and I kept thinking about my family,” Hansen remembers.

Even after engineers found him, it would be several days before they finally got him out.

Like many veterans, Hansen did not speak of his ordeal when he returned from the war. Only recently have the memories began to trouble him.

In 2003 he had to have an MRI, explained his daughter. During the test, Hansen actually began to sweat because the sound of the MRI machine reminded him of the jackhammers that were used to dig him out from out under the rubble.

Despite experiencing a life or death situation, Hansen insists he enjoyed his time in the military and frequently thought about reenlisting. Before the draft, he was a carpenter by trade and so for a time he was responsible for building chairs and tables for the officers. He even trained soldiers how to correctly identify aircraft using silhouette cut-outs.

Hansen’s story, like so many others who comprise what journalist Tom Brokaw coined as ÒThe Greatest Generation,” is one of unrelenting heroism and love of country.

A South-Sider through and through, he moved to Oak Lawn upon returning to Chicago after having lived in Philadelphia with his young bride. After beginning a construction business with his father, he built his home in Oak Lawn in 1947, where he lives today.

Local News

Orland Township hosted its 10th annual Pet-Palooza on September 24 on the Orland Township grounds, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park. (Photos by Kelly White)

Orland Township’s Pet-Palooza caters to our furry friends

By Kelly White Pet owners united at Orland Township’s Pet-Palooza. The township hosted the 10th annual event on Saturday, September 24, on the Orland Township grounds, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park. With plenty of local vendors, residents were invited out to a day of family friendly, fun-filled activities. Pet-Palooza featured more than 60 local…

Worth Mayor Mary Werner and Worth Police Chief Tim Denton expressed concerns over the impending no-cash bail provision of the SAFE-T Act. (File photo)

Some Worth officials are concerned about SAFE-T Act

By Joe Boyle A controversial criminal justice law that goes into effect on Jan. 1 has some Worth public officials apprehensive and believe it will actually cause an increase in crime. Worth resident Jack McGrath said that varying opinions about the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, or the SAFE-T Act, have arrived in mailings at…

up in smoke license

Worth revokes second business license for selling illegal cigarettes

By Joe Boyle For the second time in less than a month, the Worth Village Board has voted to revoke the license of a business in which illegal cigarettes were being sold. The board accepted the recommendation of the Worth Police Department, which called for the license of Blowing Smoke II Inc., which did business as Up in Smoke, 11015 S. Harlem Ave., to be revoked.…

Pizza Castle will be moving from its longtime home in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood to new digs in Hickory Hills.

Pizza Castle moving from Gage Park to Hickory Hills

By Bob Bong Pizza Castle has had a long run at its Gage Park neighborhood home on the Southwest Side. But after almost 50 years, the Jensen family is pulling up the roots on the family business and moving to the suburbs. The pizzeria, which was founded in 1973, will be moving to 7737 W.…

market by macy's logo

Macy’s grand opening Friday in Evergreen Park

By Bob Bong The new Market by Macy’s and Macy’s Backstage stores will hold their grand openings this weekend at Evergreen Plaza in Evergreen Park. The new stores will open in the former Carson’s at 9700 S. Western Ave. Market by Macy’s will occupy the first floor and Macy’s Backstage outlet store will take over…

Palos Heights Alderman Michael McGrogan said Tuesday that the council should come up with a solution to the proposed parking lot controversy that would satisfy businesses and residents. (Photo by Jeff Vorva )

Parking lot nixed in Palos Heights but issue not dead yet

By Jeff Vorva The controversial parking lot proposal in Palos Heights was not approved Tuesday night but the issue is not dead. The city council needed a super-majority 6-2 vote for a zoning change from residential to business and granting a special-use permit for a municipal parking lot at 12303 S. 71st Court in the…

SRP-IMAGE-Logo

Clear-Ridge Reporter and NewsHound October 5, 2022

Peggy Zabicki

Senior Center has re-opened

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 I hope everyone has been able to enjoy the beautiful autumn weather we’ve been blessed with. I visited the Southwest Regional Senior Center, 6117 S. Kedzie, recently. They are open once again, and everything looks very nice. New floors were installed and there are freshly painted…

Mary Stanek

Tabares’ shred day was a fun event

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Happy National Pizza Month! Don’t we live in a great neighborhood for pizza? There are so many pizza parlors to choose from. There are the big chains and the mom-and-pop establishments. I volunteered on last week at…

Kathy Headley

Kids visit gas station with a purpose

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 Last Thursday, third graders from McKay School visited the new Roux Gas Station at 7051 S. Western. The station was recently built on the vacant lot where Napleton Buick and its predecessor, Van Male Buick, once stood. Now…

Neighbors

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

Illinois takes Equal Rights Amendment to appeals court

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Attorneys for the state of Illinois joined their colleagues in Nevada and Virginia Wednesday in asking a federal appellate court to declare that the Equal Rights Amendment has been legally ratified as the 28th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “I have a daughter who intends to…

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

CAPITOL RECAP: State announces further unemployment debt repayment

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday, Sept. 27, to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed individuals. The employer’s insurance premiums…

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

State to reduce $1.8 billion federal unemployment debt by $450 million

By JERRY NOWICKI Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker announced a plan Tuesday to reduce a $1.8 billion Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund deficit by $450 million through an infusion of unemployment-related revenues. The trust fund is the pool of money paid into by employers to provide a social safety net for unemployed…

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

Capitol News Illinois to expand operations with $2 million McCormick Foundation grant

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – Capitol News Illinois will significantly expand its operations as it enters the fifth year of operations in 2023 because of a significant grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The McCormick Foundation has announced a three-year, $2 million investment in Capitol News Illinois, a nonprofit news organization that provides…

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

State Sen. Emil Jones III pleads not guilty in bribery case

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III pleaded not guilty in federal court Friday to three felony counts stemming from an alleged bribery scheme involving a red light camera company. Jones, 44, is a Chicago Democrat who has served in the Senate since 2009. He is also the…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

Pritzker urges two lawmakers to resign

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker called on two Democratic state senators Thursday to resign their seats amid allegations of misconduct. Sen. Emil Jones III, D-Chicago, was charged in federal court earlier this week with soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a red light camera company. And Sen. Michael Hastings,…

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

Illinois Supreme Court denies former lawmakers’ claim for back pay

By PETER HANCOCK Capitol News Illinois [email protected] SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a lawsuit filed by two former state legislators who sued for back pay they believed they were due for raises that they voted against while in office. Former Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, and former Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, argued…

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

CAPITOL RECAP: Another Democratic senator charged in bribery scheme

By CAPITOL NEWS ILLINOIS SPRINGFIELD – State Sen. Emil Jones III has been charged in federal court with three criminal counts tied to his dealings with a red light camera company. Jones, a Chicago Democrat, is the son of former Senate President Emil Jones Jr. The younger Jones has served in the Senate since 2009…

Reporter Mecy Circle House Ad
Regional Rich Real Estate House Ad