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    Vietnam Veteran returns library book 52 years later

    Vietnam Veteran returns library book 52 years later

    Photo By Sgt. Ally Beiswanger | Retired U.S. Marine Corps Willis "Bill" Hansen returns his library book 52 years later...... read more read more



    Story by Cpl. Carl King 

    3rd Marine Division   

    CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Returning a library book late isn't a crime, thankfully, because prisons would be over-crowded if it were. Fines associated with overdue books typically accumulate to a fee of a few dollars. A retired U.S. Marine, however, wondered what his fine would be as he prepared to return a book that he had checked out 52 years ago.

    "52 years later, that's what I'm doing. Coming back to see how much of a fine I'm getting," chuckled retired U.S. Marine Col. Willis "Bill" Hansen, a Colorado Springs, Colorado native.

    Hansen joined the Marine Corps in 1964 during the Vietnam War as an undesignated infantrymen. He deployed to Okinawa, Japan, as a machine gunner, where he and his company prepared to enter Vietnam.

    "They filed us out in formation one day and said pack two sea bags," said Hansen. "One was to go with us to Vietnam and the other would stay on island and would be shipped back to the states."

    In Okinawa, Hansen had trained to serve as a machine gunner for the deployment to Vietnam. Upon landing, Hansen was given a unique opportunity.

    "We were lining up to be assigned to our different units and a Marine came up to our formation and said he needed four volunteers for Recon," said Hansen. "So I raised my hand."

    Hansen returned to the U.S. after serving 13 months in Vietnam. While unpacking his sea bags, he realized he had packed an item that would follow him around for the next 52 years.

    "When I first got to island, I wanted to learn a little bit about the culture and where I was staying," said Hansen. "So I checked out a book from the library that I figured would give me a little insight into the culture. I intended to return the book, but it slipped my mind."

    Hansen recently learned he was requested to speak at the 3rd Reconnaissance Marine Corps birthday ball and wanted to take the opportunity to return the overdue book.

    Leadership and esprit de corps seems to run in the Hansen family. Hansen's son, Lt. Col. Richard Hansen, is currently the commanding officer of the unit his dad served with in Vietnam.

    According to Lt. Col. Richard Hansen, he would dress up in his dad's old recon military utilities when playing outside with his childhood friends. Lt. Col. Richard Hansen said he believes this is what predestined him to become a U.S. Marine.

    "He's going to be the guest speaker here for the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion ball that we have, and I invited him out here because of the fact that 50 years ago, he was serving in the same battalion that I command now," said Lt. Col. Richard Hansen.

    On October 26, 2017, Hansen's 7,760 mile journey came to an end. Hansen was met by the 3rd Marine Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake, who was astounded to hear about his story. Hansen presented the book to Timberlake as a gift upon receiving approval from the Camp Hansen librarian.

    According to Timberlake, the book, "The Kimono Mind," by Bernard Rudofsky, will be kept in the 3rd Marine Division's library.

    And in case anyone was wondering, Hansen was not given a fine.



    Date Taken: 10.26.2017
    Date Posted: 11.08.2017 06:15
    Story ID: 254559

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