In March of 2017, Bill Hanson received a letter that he was hoping for—saying he was chosen for the Korean Veterans Honor Flight.
Bill served in the Army Airborne for 3 years, earning the rank of Sargeant. He attended basic training at camp Atterbury Indiana, he was assigned to the 187th Airborne, where he served in Korea in Airborne Combat Training. Qualifying him for combat as a paratrooper was the highlight of his service.
While serving in the war Bill stepped on a land mine, shattering his foot, and spent 5 1/2 months in the Walter Reed Hospital. He received a Purple Heart medal, Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Bronze Star, Combat infantry occupation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Parachute Badge. Bill completed 49 jumps during his time in the war.
Bill then came back home to marry the love of his life Mary Stecher, and had six children all while starting his own business plumbing and Excavating, which he ran for 38 years before selling it to his son Keane. He joined the New England Fire Department in 1956, and has served for 60 years—25 of them being fire chief.
Not only did he get to enjoy this trip to Washington, D.C. with his son Keane, but in September of 2016 he got to enjoy watching four of his grandchildren and, daughter Cheryl, jump out of a plane in Colorado. They wanted to experience what he did.
Bill and Keane spent two beautiful days touring the memorials along with 91 other veterans. What really touched Bill’s heart were all the hugs and cheers and thank yous from people along the way, and at the airports. “An experience of a lifetime,” says Bill.
While it’s been a good run At nearly 86 years old, he thinks it’s time to start slowing down a bit, and is retiring from the NEFD in July (but will still be there if they need him). Bill is a member of the New England Legion, 40-8,and DAV, and VFW.