Donna Hanson was on a mission to find out more about her father’s military career.

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Hanson’s background as an aerospace contractor and licensed pilot brought her to Dayton for employment at the University of Dayton. Besides a stint at Lexis-Nexis, she also worked at Kroger before retiring in 2007. During this time, she became a subject matter expert in the field of aviation. But although she had written a lot of factual texts over the years, she never thought of writing fiction.

Until she finds out about her father’s story.

Legend

Donald Richard Hanson was part of a crew of young Navy recruits who served on the first LST (Landing Ship/Tank) bound for Omaha Beach during World War II. His daughter, Donna Hanson, published a book about her father and his shipmates.

Donald Richard Hanson was part of a crew of young Navy recruits who served on the first LST (Landing Ship/Tank) bound for Omaha Beach during World War II.  His daughter, Donna Hanson, published a book about her father and his shipmates.
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Donald Richard Hanson was part of a crew of young Navy recruits who served on the first LST (Landing Ship/Tank) bound for Omaha Beach during World War II. His daughter, Donna Hanson, published a book about her father and his shipmates.

“I joined a writers group about four years ago,” Hanson said. “I had to learn to give myself permission to embellish stories while writing fiction. And how to write from the heart.

She felt her father’s story was just waiting to be told, but she didn’t have all the details about the crew and their daily lives. After discovering that few printed records exist of the LST, she decided to write a fictional history, based on the facts she had, to honor her father and his shipmates.

“One of the first things I did was go to the LST 325 museum in Evansville, Indiana,” Hanson said. “They have the last WWII-era LST in service.”

Hanson has been sailing since 1975 and on a transatlantic voyage said she felt what her father must have felt on an early morning watch on a moonless night with a sky full of stars. But for him, it was not so peaceful.

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“They constantly had to worry about submarines,” Hanson said. “To think of the LST and its crew is very humbling.”

Hanson began writing the history of the LST crew with only roadmaps and journals. But with these, she could identify, with some accuracy, the course of the ship and the number of soldiers on board. She sketched out a plan and the story began to come to life.

“All of these guys were kids,” Hanson said. “70% were under 20 – even the officers. And they were all scared and nervous.

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Donald Richard Hanson was a Navy Signalman who served on LST 374 during World War II. He is shown in 1944 working on this ship.

Donald Richard Hanson was a Navy Signalman who served on LST 374 during World War II.  He is shown in 1944 working on this ship.
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Donald Richard Hanson was a Navy Signalman who served on LST 374 during World War II. He is shown in 1944 working on this ship.

Hanson said she wanted to avoid making her book another “Band of Brothers” story and instead pull enough from real life to make it a real human story about what life was like for men on this type of ship.

“I just wanted to tell the men’s story and honor what they did,” Hanson said.

It took Hanson more than two years to research and write his first book “Heroes All”. She chose to self-publish and created her own website. The book became available for sale in mid-April. Vice Admiral Andrew L. Lewis, retired from the USN, told Hanson she “made it.”

Hanson is currently working on her second book, her mother’s story of the Dust Bowl days in Kansas and Missouri. The book is set in the small town of Orrick, Missouri, where his mother was born.

LST 325 will make a trip down the Ohio River in September and Hanson hopes to be on board, although that is unconfirmed. The craft will arrive in Cincinnati the morning of September 27 and will be open for public tours for several weeks thereafter. She will also speak at the LST Association meeting on October 19 with Lewis.

“My book is a tribute to a small group of America’s greatest generation,” Hanson said. “It is written to honor these sometimes forgotten and unsung heroes.”

To learn more about Hanson and his books, log on to Combinedmindscreative.com

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Donna Hanson has published her father’s story – Heroes All – about the crew of the first Landing Ship/Tank (LST) of World War II.

Donna Hanson has published her father's story - Heroes All - about the crew of the first Landing Ship/Tank (LST) of World War II.
callout arrowLegend

Donna Hanson has published her father’s story – Heroes All – about the crew of the first Landing Ship/Tank (LST) of World War II.

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