Senator Kevin Witkos (R-8) has named Ralph L. Hann the “Veteran of the Month” this April. Seaman First Class Ralph Hann is a West Simsbury resident who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
“Ralph is a decorated hero whose memories and stories preserve our national history,”said Senator Witkos. “He bravely enlisted in the Navy as a young man, and proudly served our country despite the many horrors of war. His persistence and dedication to our nation is inspiring.”
Hann was a high school student in Plainfield, N.J. when World War II broke out and felt a draw to answer the call to service. He completed his junior year and at the age of 17 enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was sworn in on July 16, 1943 in New York City, and shipped off to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in Chicago for Boot Camp Training.
Hann made his way to the U.S. Navy Receiving Barracks in Shoemaker, CA where he was a postal clerk for about a year until he was called to serve aboard the USS Mazama AE 9. The ship left for the South Pacific on August 25, 1944 and Hann served as the Helmsman until he was promoted to Seaman First Class.
The Mazama saw a great deal of action in the South Pacific. In October 1944 the crew fought in the Battle of Leyte Gulf where they survived a series of attacks by Japanese kamikaze planes. On the morning of January 12, 1945, the Mazama was torpedoed by a Japanese kamikaze submarine and started to sink. Hann was injured in the explosion, hurting his left leg and bruising his arms and shoulders. Thanks to the bravery of many crew members who made emergency repairs, the Mazama was eventually saved.
After the attack, Hann accompanied the ship home for further repairs, arriving in San Francisco on April 12, 1945, the same day President Franklin Roosevelt died and Harry Truman became the President of the United States. Hann was treated for his injuries, moving between naval hospitals for 18 months while he underwent treatment for Sclerosing Osteomyelitis, a result of his injuries from the torpedo explosion. He was honorably discharged from the United States Navy Reserve on August 1, 1946.
After his service, Hann attended college at Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, married his high school sweetheart Corrine in 1948, and took a job working for Allstate Insurance Company. In 1968, the couple moved to West Simsbury, CT where they currently reside. The Hanns have three children (two girls and a boy), six grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Hann’s full story and a video interview can be found on senatorwitkos.com and at the following direct link: http://ctsenaterepublicans.com/2014/04/veteran-of-the-month-ralph-l-hann/.
Senator Witkos’s “Veteran of the Month” program features the stories of local veterans each month through text and video. Each story highlights the veteran’s unique experiences and acts of service. To nominate a local veteran to be a “Veteran of the Month” please contact Katie Kenneally at Katie.Kenneally@cga.ct.gov or (860)240-8862