‘I was one of the lucky ones’: Siouxlander reflects on close calls during time in the U.S. Navy

Veterans Voices

ANTHON, Iowa (KCAU) — A Siouxlander who recently helped Anthon’s American Legion McNiff Post 389 celebrate its 100th anniversary also helped America win battles in the Asian-Pacific Theater.

After just 30 days of basic training in Illinois, Marvin Hanson was shipped to New Caledonia in December of 1942, where he boarded the U.S.S. President Jackson. After that, the ship would create an amazing legacy filled with survival and heroic escapes.

One of the most remarkable memories for Hanson happened during their second stint at the Battle of Bougainville. On November 8, 1943, dive bombers dropped a 500 pound explosive on the hull of the Jackson.

“It hit the king post and bent the detonator, so it didn’t go off, so if that would’ve exploded, well, I probably wouldn’t have been here today,” said Hanson.

In the Battle of Rendova, enemy planes flew right over the top of their ship while fellow combat cruiser U.S.S. McCawley wasn’t as fortunate, getting sunk by a submarine torpedo.

“So, I mean, we could’ve got torpedoed there, so we just escaped a lot of them engagements and even the enemy named us as the Unholy Four,” Hanson said.

The Unholy Four was made up of the U.S.S. President Hayes, President Adams, and Crescent City. Along with Hanson’s President Jackson, all four were able to come out of numerous missions unscathed, including another close call at Emirau Island in March of 1944.

“Tried to bait the Japanese fleets in and they’d come out. But they didn’t, nothing happened, so we was happy with that. We didn’t want an 18-inch shell coming at us,” said Hanson.

Hanson reflected on how close he and his comrades were to destruction as the historic ship went on to receive eight battle stars after the war.

“And I was one of the lucky ones, I didn’t get a scratch,” Hanson said.

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