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Obituary of Raymond George Hensel
World War II veteran Raymond George Hensel peacefully passed away in Tacoma, Washington, from old age and a recent bout of pneumonia, on February 8, 2023, two days after he turned 99. For the past six years, he resided at Patriots Landing, a retirement community, in DuPont, Washington, where he was the last resident of the Greatest Generation.
A veteran of both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army, Hensel never minded who won the annual Army/Navy football game. He loved them both.
Born in Ballard (Seattle, Washington) on February 6, 1924, he was raised an only child on West 57th Street, across from his grandparents and aunt. He ran track at Ballard High School and started pedaling the Seattle Times at age 15. He said delivering the afternoon paper ruined his social life, so he switched to working for the morning Post Intelligencer. Named shack manager at age 16, a customer declared him “the best damn carrier the P.I. ever had.”
With his savings, he bought a 1930 green Ford Model A with a rumble seat, definitely elevating his social life. Soon, the war changed all that.
Hensel was a high school senior when Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. He followed in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Navy in World War I, and enlisted on December 9 with four of his high school friends to serve in World War II. “It was a naval attack, so we naturally joined the Navy,” he told his family.
He traveled with 100 young enlistees from the Seattle area down to the San Diego Naval Training Station, and was eventually assigned as a signalman on the USS Aldebaran, the lead ship of her class of stores ship, which supplied goods to the U.S. Navy in the Pacific, including at the battles of Guadalcanal, Midway and Guam.
On shore in Guam, literally hours before the end of the war, he looked down from his signalman’s tower and saw the Navy’s two five-star admirals, William F. Halsey and Chester W. Nimitz, with General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, walking together before boarding the USS Missouri. They were heading to Japan for the signing of the Instrument of Surrender in Japan.
Following the war, Hensel married Dorris Trogdon, his beloved wife of 72 years, who predeceased him in 2018. Settling in the Seattle area, they soon had the first two of their four daughters. In 1948, while working and attending the University of Washington, Hensel heard an offer he could not refuse: a veteran with two years of college could join the Army as a Second Lieutenant. As a career Army man, Hensel rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel, served in both the Infantry and Quartermaster Corps, became a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division, attended the Command and General Staff College, and was a Battalion Commander in Ludwigsburg, Germany.
While in the Army, he received a B.S. from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Alabama. He had received his high school diploma with his fellow enlistees and the rest of his class on a hurried leave home in June, 1943.
Retiring to his native Washington State, Hensel tried a few jobs before becoming Supervisor of Licensing for the Washington State Liquor Control Board in Olympia. He retired for the final time in 1986, when he was able to enjoy his family, golf, and his cherished Husky football team. He attended his first U of W football game when he was four years old, and had season tickets up until his 90s.
Hensel regularly said he loved his life, and was especially proud of his four daughters, Barbara Perry (William), Dolores Eyler (Van Siler), Robin Dower (Dale) and Patricia Sporn (Jay). He was greatly admired and loved by his 11 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, and was known for his loyalty, friendliness, and good humor.
He will be interred with military honors on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, at 11 a.m. at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.
For more information, you may contact Dolores Eyler at 914-707-0085 or by email at email@example.com.
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