Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Army 1
1916 1
Wisconsin 1
29-30 November 1944 2

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Personal Details

Harold M Hansen 1
Also known as: Harold (Hud) M. Hansen 2
Level of Education: 4 years of college 1
Marital Status: Single, without dependents 1
Male 2
1916 1
Wisconsin 1
29-30 November 1944 2
Cause: KIA WWII 2
Place: EauClaire County, Wisconsin 1
Mother: Maude Hansen 2
Father: Henry L. Hansen 2
Janet (Grubbe) Hansen 2
16 Mar 1943 2
Boise, Idaho 2

World War II 1

Army 1
Enlistment Date:
15 Oct 1940 1
Army Branch:
Medical Administrative Corps - For Officers only 1
Army Component:
Regular Army (including Officers, Nurses, Warrant Officers, and Enlisted Men) 1
Army Serial Number:
16025929 1
Enlistment Place:
Cp McCoy Sparta Wisconsin 1
Enlistment Term:
Enlistment for the Philippine Department 1
Source of Army Personnel:
Civil Life 1
Paymasters, payroll clerks, and timekeepers 1
Race or Ethnicity:
White 1
Source Information:
Box Number: 0208 1
Film Reel Number: 2.65 1

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Harold "Hud" M. Hansen

Saipan, Mariana Islands

Harold "Hud" M. Hansen was the son of Mr. & Mrs. Henry L. and Maude Hansen of Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Hud graduated from Eau Claire High School, and then Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet on 15 October 1940 at Camp McCoy near Sparta, Wisconsin. 

Attended the Spartan Aviation School for preliminary flight training at Hatbox Field near Muskogee, Oklahoma.  Subsequently assigned to Randolph Army Air Field, Texas; he received his "wings" and was commissioned (ASN O-421695) a 2nd Lieutenant at Kelly Field, Texas on 11 July 1941.

In January 1942, he was assigned as a B-17 bomber pilot with the 74th Bomb Squadron at the Guatemala City Air Base in Central America in defense of the Panama Canal Zone.  While there, he met his wife-to-be (Janet Grubbe) who was working for the British government in Guatemala City.

In March 1943, he rotated back to the United States and was stationed as a flight instructor at Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho.  Married Janet Grubbe on 16 March 1943.

Effective 24 November 1943, the 500th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) and its subordinate units, the 881st, 882nd, 883rd, and 884th Bombardment Squadrons, along with the 29th, 30th, 31st, and 32nd Bombardment Maintenance Squadrons, and the 18th Photographic Laboratory Squadron were activated.

In February 1944, he transferred with the 500th Bomb Group to Clovis Field, New Mexico to join the initial cadre of officers selected to fly the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

In April 1944, he was assigned to 883rd Bomb Squadron, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 73rd Bomb Wing.  He transitioned from the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress to the B-29 Superfortress.  Early on, each squadron was only assigned one B-29 aircraft.  Thus combat crew training was initially performed using B-17 aircraft at Walker Army Air Field near Victoria, Kansas. 

Maj. Hansen was selected to be the airplane command pilot of aircrew #351 (tail code Z-44, Boeing B-29 bomber serial #42-65218).

On 19 October 1944; paragraph 4 of Special Order No. 203 directed his aircrew along with several others of the 500th Bomb Group to proceed to the overseas staging area at Kearney Army Air Field, Nebraska.

On 17 November 1944, he deployed from Mather Field near Sacramento, California to the Central Pacific Theatre of Operations and was assigned to 20th Air Force, XXI Bomber Command, 73rd Bomb Wing, 500th Bombardment Group (VH), 883rd Bomb Squadron stationed at Isley Field on Saipan in the Mariana Islands.  Route of travel with refueling stops along the way were:  John Rodgers Field on Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands, and Bucholz Army Air Field on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands (arriving at Isley Field on Monday 20 November 1944).

Thursday 23 Nov 1944 was Thanksgiving Day on Saipan.  In the 500th Bomb Group no missions were scheduled, and there was apparently no turkey.  But according to the Z-8 copilot, they still had a nice dinner, "with chicken, potatoes, peas, fresh butter, and pumpkin pie."

Friday 24 Nov 1944:  Z-44 is one of 111 73rd Bomb Wing B-29 Superfortress bombers to strike Tokyo for the first time since Capt. Jimmy Doolittle's raid in 1942. Their target was the Nakajima aircraft engine works.  Bombing results were rated as "poor."  Two B-29 aircraft were lost:  A-26 serial #42-24622 crashed after a mid-air collision with a Japanese Ki-44 "Tojo" fighter aircraft.  V-48 serial #42-24679 ran out of fuel and had to ditch on the route home.

On the night of 29-30 November 1944, Maj. Hansen flew in the left seat as the Airplane Command Pilot aboard a Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Tail Code Z-SQUARE-44 (serial #42-65218). 

The launch sequence for take-off was at twilight, between 1810 and 1828 hours local on Wednesday 29 Nov 1944.  Z-44 was one of 29 73rd Bomb Wing aircraft launched on a night-radar mission to bombard the industrial area of Tokyo, Japan.  No Group formation flying was scheduled, and Field Order #23 directed each aircrew to proceed individually to the target, release their bombs using radar, and to return individually to Isley Field. 

There were no escort fighter aircraft provided during the planned 15-hour round-trip mission. Arrival over Tokyo would have been approximately 0118 hours on 30 Nov 1944.  While over the target area, Z-49 was the only bomber to report that it had been attacked by an enemy fighter plane.  Two aircraft did report flak from anti-aircraft artillery, but it was described as inaccurate.

Six returning 500th Bomb Group B-29 aircraft landed at Isley Field the following morning between 0630 and 0819 hours local on Thursday 30 Nov 1944.  According to the launch sequence, his B-29 bomber should have also returned during this time-frame. 

However, Z-44 was the only B-29 aircraft that failed to return to Saipan, and no radio distress signals were ever received.  Major Hansen along with the rest of aircrew #351 were declared Killed In Action one year later, since Z-44 was not seen or heard from again.

On 9 April 1943, while at Gowen Field, Captain Hansen wrote the following letter home to his parents:

"Dear Mother and Dad, Just a line to let you know that all my back mail caught up with me today. I had a letter dated March 1 that was sent to Panama and two letters dated March 16 and 17. As for Eddie Rickenbacker, I am afraid that I disagree with you. I admit that he isn't going about it the best way, but he has been around and seen army bases all over the world, and he knows that some of the outfits are running on a shoestring and baling wire so, when several thousand people go on strike for some petty little thing, or don't show up for work for some minor reason, it makes his blood boil. It makes mine, too. My men in engineering had to work twenty-four hours a day to keep a bunch of planes that were on their last legs going, while the people working at Boeing airplane factories were talking about going out on strike because they wanted more money for overtime. We have to court martial somebody for something he did or failed to do, which was exactly the same as civilians are doing all the time. In my mind, it's just as important to get the planes and things built, as it is to make proper use of them. I don't see any difference between a person failing to show up for work in a defense plant and a soldier going AWOL for a day. Sure, there are things about a person's job he doesn't like. I don't think that my crew enjoyed being hungry when we would run out of food out on the Rock. I don't think they cared much about flying nine hours, then working five or six hours on a plane, and then pulling guard for four hours all in one day either.... without overtime! You people at home are just as much in this war as we are. From what little I have seen of the States since I got back, I am rather disgusted. You listen to people scream about no meat or no butter or some other shortage, as if the world was going to end if they didn't get it. Just between you and me, this war is mighty far from being won. At best, I would say that we are about breaking even these days, and it's going to be a long time before it's all over. Better people should start figuring what they can put into this war, instead of what they can get out of it. It might end a lot sooner. Well, about enough of that. Every once in awhile, I boil over though, when I hear somebody shooting off. Your son, Hud"

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