It’s a small world after all

Posted May 22, 2013 at 9:29 pm


Two local veterans meet for the first time 68 years after fighting the same battles during World War II

By Lindsie DeFrang


Dennis Kubischta has always loved his job as Steele County Veteran Service Officer, but this past Monday it became a little more special to him.

“For my job assisting veterans and their families with federal and state benefits I do an interview process that required me to know a veterans entire military experience. Because of the confidentiality of my relationship with these vets no one knows what I know and it stays that way, until now,” said Kubischta.

“Two veterans, who walked the same paths in Steele County, fought the enemy together and had the same experiences in their lives at the same places and never met until May 20, 2013,” he added.

Joe Hanson of Mayville, formerly of Sharon and Warren Cole of Hope, both served during World War II at the Battle of Saipan, Battle of Okinawa and Occupation of Japan. Hanson a 1st Sergeant in the 27th Infantry Division for the United States Army and Cole a Private in the 2nd Marine Division for the 8th Marines in the United States Marine Corps.

As Hanson and Cole sat together at the Finley Legion Hall they began talking about what they had to do 68 years ago to survive the war.

Cole who volunteered for the draft recalled his boat ride out into the Pacific, “One guy died on the way out to battle, so we had a sea burial for him. The boat came to a complete stop, his body was weighted down and we slipped him into the water.”

“Some memories are forgotten. You try not to think about all the casualties and gore you saw, it’s not something that you want to think or talk about and remember every day,” said Hanson.

Hanson went on to talk about his experience of being attacked by the Japanese on July 7, 1944 during the Battle of Saipan.

“It was early, dusk, just barely day break. We knew something was coming during the night as we laid in our foxholes. We could hear them hooting and making commotion gearing up for an attack as we were surrounded by hills and cliffs full of the enemy,” Hanson said.

Two days later Saipan was secured. Out of 71,000 Americans who landed, 2,949 were killed and 10,464 were wounded. Hanson was one of them.

Cole said he was one of the lucky ones that didn’t get injured. He thanked having a large B.A. R (Browning Automatic Rifle) by his side.

The Battle of Okinawa was known as the “Bloodiest battle in the Pacific”. Only lasting 82 days the battle ended shortly after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“It was at Okinawa where I saw General Simon Buckner killed by artillery fire a mere 100 yards from where I stood,” said Cole.

Stories were told of wanting actual meat instead of what was given to them in their rations, so a horse that survived battle became a meal for many men.

“You just did what you had to in order to survive, many things you wouldn’t even think about these days. But we had to do it on that island,” Cole said.

“It’s so amazing to see these two men meet 68 years after they fought for our country and hear them share the bits they remember with each other,” said Kubischta.

Both Hanson and Cole said that what they did was no big deal. In their minds they weren’t heroes, they were only doing what they had to.