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First Name: Dale

Last Name: Hansen

Birthplace: Wisner, NE, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Merlin

Date of Birth: 13 December 1922

Date of Death: 11 May 1945

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1944-1945
Dale Merlin Hansen

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Dale Merlin Hansen
Private, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Private Dale Merlin Hansen (13 December 1922 - 11 May 1945) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded his nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his outstanding heroism on 7 May 1945 in the fight for Hill 60 on Okinawa. He was killed by enemy sniper fire three days later.

Dale Merlin Hansen was born on 13 December 1922 in Wisner, NE. While attending the schools of Cuming County, he helped out on the family farm, and after graduating from high school in Wisner in 1940, he worked full-time on the farm.

Marine Corps Service

Hansen was inducted into the Marine Corps Reserve on 11 May 1944. He completed recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA, and was then assigned to the Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Pendleton, CA, where he underwent four weeks of infantry indoctrination and two weeks of training with the Browning Automatic Rifle. With that weapon he turned in a score of 175 to become an Expert Automatic Rifleman.

Private Hansen sailed for the Pacific theater on 12 November 1944, with a replacement draft, and the following month, joined Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, at Pavuvu in the Russell Islands. There, he underwent "bazooka" training before sailing with the 1st Marine Division for maneuvers at Banika Island and Guadalcanal in February 1945.

Late that March, after a few more days back at Pavuvu, the division left for Okinawa where Pvt Hansen landed with his unit on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945. The action which brought him the Medal of Honor occurred in the battle for Hill 60 on the southern part of the island where his determination and total disregard of personal danger helped his unit take a well-defended enemy position. Pvt Hansen was killed by a Japanese sniper on 11 May 1945 in the Wana-Dakeshi Ridge fighting.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Marine Corps.

Place and date: Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Chain, 7 May 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company E, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 7 May 1945. Cool and courageous in combat, Pvt. Hansen unhesitatingly took the initiative during a critical stage of the action and, armed with a rocket launcher, crawled to an exposed position where he attacked and destroyed a strategically located hostile pillbox. With his weapon subsequently destroyed by enemy fire, he seized a rifle and continued his 1-man assault. Reaching the crest of a ridge, he leaped across, opened fire on 6 Japanese and killed 4 before his rifle jammed. Attacked by the remaining 2 Japanese, he beat them off with the butt of his rifle and then climbed back to cover. Promptly returning with another weapon and supply of grenades, he fearlessly advanced, destroyed a strong mortar position and annihilated 8 more of the enemy. In the forefront of battle throughout this bitterly waged engagement, Pvt. Hansen, by his indomitable determination, bold tactics and complete disregard of all personal danger, contributed essentially to the success of his company's mission and to the ultimate capture of this fiercely defended outpost of the Japanese Empire. His great personal valor in the face of extreme peril reflects the highest credit upon himself and the U.S. Naval Service.

The Medal of Honor was presented to Pvt Hansen's parents on 30 May 1946, by the officer in charge of the Midwestern Recruiting Division as part of Wisner's Memorial Day observance.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart


Camp Hansen, one of the ten Marine Corps camps on Okinawa comprising Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, is named in honor of Pvt. Hansen.

In 1967, a three-tiered display was commissioned by the Marine Corps and given to the city of Wisner, NE, Hansen's hometown. It features an oil painting of Hansen wearing his Medal of Honor, a brass plaque recognizing his achievements, and a reproduction of the citation honoring Hansen. It currently is on display at Wisner-Pilger High School.

Death and Burial

Private Dale Merlin Hansen was killed in action on 11 May 1945. Private Hansen was initially buried in the 1st Marine Division Cemetery on Okinawa, but his remains were returned to the U.S. in 1948 for burial at Wisner Cemetery in Wisner, NE.

Honoree ID: 1426   Created by: MHOH




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