John Richard Hanson

Published 9:13 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

John Richard Hanson (or “Grandad” as he was known to the grandchildren, he so adored) ended his earthly journey at the age of 93 on Nov. 17, 2019.  The only child of John and Thelma Hanson, John left his Kansas home shortly before his high school class graduated to volunteer as a paratrooper, set on defending his country in World War II.  PFC Hanson jumped and fought through Europe as a teenager with the 82nd and 101st Airborne, earning (among numerous other awards) the Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals, as well as the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for facing direct combat.  After serving abroad, John was offered the opportunity to serve in an expansion of the Army Air Corps (soon to be known as the Air Force), which continued his career through honorable tours in both Korea and Vietnam before retiring from Langley Air Force Base as a master sergeant.  One of our nation’s brave and selfless “3-War” veterans, John was humble, hard-working, and content serving his community.  Before retiring and traveling the U.S., John’s civilian occupations included tugboat captain, delivery driver for oil and auto parts, and even gas station attendant.  He was a proud member and former Master of the Masonic Lodge #49 in Poquoson.  

A friend to all he encountered, John was known not only by his tall, strong stature, but also his tender smile and sense of humor.  He loved reading, Western films, and all of God’s four-legged and feathered creatures passionately.  Although his faith kept him grounded, he was over the moon with pride for his family.  

John was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Mildred Lee Hanson; and granddaughter, Kory Jones.  He is survived by his wife of 43 years, Maryann; his children, John R. Hanson Jr. “Sonny” (Linda), William G. Hanson “Garland” (Leslie), Kip Redick (Sarah) and Kim Forrest (Mark); grandchildren, Rhonda Forrest, Rachel Finch (Jeff), Sunny Lee Freeman (Craig), Caroline Hanson, Will Hanson, Caroline Redick, Caleb Redick (Danae), Kymberly Carr (Paul) and Matt Jones (Kory); as well as eight great-grandchildren.  His honorable service and loving family are a testament to the legacy of a young boy who set out to selflessly lay his life on the altar of freedom.  It is a very rare occasion to walk amongst true heroes, and the lessons Grandad left us with will echo throughout our family and our community for generations to come.  When life is lived in a manner so full, the end still feels too soon, but the peace John now feels is well earned and surely deserved.  Rest easy Airborne, you’ve done well sir.  Mission complete. The family will hold a private graveside memorial at the Old Brick Church Cemetery in Surry. Online condolences may be registered at

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