Danish WW2 Pilots

SSgt Henrik William Hansen

(1918 - 1993)

S/Sgt Henrik W. Hansen left Denmark as a young seaman in 1937. He settled in the USA and in 1942 he enlisted in the US Army. He served in the USAAF in the Philippines in 1944-45.

Henrik William Hansen was born on 17 January 1918 in Copenhagen, to Emil Bertel Hansen and Marie Helene Hansen (née Hubenbecker). He was baptized Heinrich Villiam Hansen originally. [1] His father was a coachman for the workers’ cooperative bakery and the family lived in a small apartment in Nørrebro, a working class area in Copenhagen.[2]

In the mid-1930s Hansen became a member of the merchant marine. He was engaged as a ship’s boy onboard the MS Asbjørn on 22 July 1936 in Copenhagen. About a year later, Asbjørn arrived in New York from Rotterdam on 4 May 1937 and later, on 30 July, he was onboard as the vessel arrived in Seattle, Washington, from Yawata in Japan.[3]

Served in the Philippine Campaign

Hansen enlisted as a private (32521528) in the U.S. Army in Fort Jay Governors Island, New York, on 6 October 1942. [4] Very little information is available on his service and he did not like to talk about the war in later life. However, he is known to have served as a staff sergeant in the Army Air Force and that he was awarded the World War II Victory Medal, the Aciatic-Pacific Service Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon.[5]

The latter was awarded for participation in the liberation of the Philippines between October 1944 and September 1945. Even if the nature of his service—including if he served in the air or on the ground—is not clear, it is evident that he served in this campagn.[6]

Hansen was awarded the King Christian X’s Medal for Participation in the War 1940-45 in May 1945.[7]

After the War

Hansen returned to New Jersey after the war. He worked as an electronics technician for Picatinny Arsenal for 30 years. In this capacity and as a civilian he was instrumental in the development of equipment used in the USAF during Operation Desert Storm.

Henrik William Hansen died on 1 August 1993.[8]


[1] DNA: Parish register, Kingo sogn.

[2] DNA: 1921, 1925, 1930 Census of Denmark.

[3] Ancestry: New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957.

[4] Ancestry: U.S., World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.

[5] Iacone, Alexis, Obituary or Henrik W. Hansen, 75, WW II veteran, The Herald-News, 2 August 1993, p. 6.

[6] Philippine Liberation Ribbon, Air Force’s Personnel Center, https://www.afpc.af.mil/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/421894/philippine-liberation-ribbon/ (accessed on 15 April 2024).

[7] DNA: Udenrigsministeriets gruppeordnede sager 1946-1972, 48.Y.90 USA.

[8] Ancestry: New Jersey, Death Index, 1901-2017.