Kern County has lost a member of the Greatest Generation. World War II veteran, Army Corporal Adolph Hanson, died Tuesday. He was 95 years old. But, friends say his life was cut short. They say the highly decorated veteran never got to share his war stories or experience an Honor Flight to the nation's capital with fellow veterans.
"He was a hero. He was our hero," said Joyce Williams, friend and neighbor of Hanson.
She and other neighbors go through pictures in The Greens neighborhood. They remember their close friend they knew as "Ade."
"Yeah, I think he was probably like a father. How so? I don't know. He was just a great guy," said Wayne Lubke, Hanson's friend and neighbor.
Hanson was drafted when he was 21. He served five years away from his wife and daughter. He then fought Malaria for a year when the war was over.
"Actually, he didn't talk about the military much at all. He says I had enough of that. I don't want to talk about it," said Lubke.
But, mementos of Hanson's courage are seen throughout his home. Displayed are a purple heart, a silver star, and a bronze star. His friends say in his final days, Hanson slowly began opening up about memories of his service, like preparing to invade Japan.
"They were all getting very nervous about going in on that and all of a sudden people were saying, "Hey! The war is over, the war is over. They dropped a bomb on Japan." And, they said, "Well, they are dropping bombs on us all of the time. But, they said this was a special, a special bomb," explained Williams.
Interviewers from American Sound Recording studios were set to permanently capture Hanson's war stories, along with other local World War II veterans, for the Library of Congress. And, Hanson was on the list for the upcoming Honor Flight to see his memorial at the nation's capital. Neither could happen soon enough, before Hanson's body surrendered.
"I think with his experience and what he went through in World War II, I think he should have had that honor. I really do," said Lubke.
Hanson's experiences behind his medals will likely never be fully understood the way he knew them. And, instead of seeing his memorial in person, he will view it from above. And, he will leave behind those who knew him as their hero, someone far more than a friend.
"We were his family," said Williams, "But, he's at peace now."
Hanson leaves behind several children and grandchildren. There are no services scheduled at this time.