John Hankes, originally from Hastings but now living in the Prescott Rehab and Nursing Center, was presented with a Commemorative Medal during a special awards ceremony that took place at the American Legion Post 47 in Hastings last weekend Saturday, April 30. A small audience of family, friends, and supporters were in attendance.
Hankes, 94, was presented his medal by the Honorary Council General from Norway, Eivind Heiberg. Other speakers and veterans took part in the ceremony as well.
Former World War II veteran and Minnesota National Guard member Harry Seiben saluted Hankes for his service to his country.
“Some of these men and women are from what many call the Greatest Generation — the generation that saved the world,” Seiben stated. “Some like John Hankes joined the army (and later the First Special Service Force). And John, we thank you for joining the army and being part of the Greatest Generation. Thanks for all you’ve done.”
Hankes was a member of the Minnesota National Guard and was drafted into service in 1940. After being sent to Montana to start training, Hankes became part of the famous First Special Service Force, serving in combat missions in Africa, Italy, France, and Norway. The Special Service team helped liberate Norway from the German Army in the 1940s. As part of their difficult and often dangerous missions, Hankes and his unit climbed a mile-high mountain in the middle of the night in frigid temperatures in capturing what had been an impregnable Nazi mountain stronghold, “Monte la Difensa.”
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|John Hankes receives his medal fromHonorary Council General from Norway Eivind Heiberg. Photo by Jason Strangis|