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Edward Hanson

Edward William Hanson
28th Governor of American Samoa
In office
June 26, 1938 – July 30, 1940
Preceded by MacGillivray Milne
Succeeded by Jesse Wallace
Personal details
Born February 12, 1889
Alexandria, Minnesota
Died October 18, 1959(1959-10-18) (aged 70)
La Jolla, California
Spouse(s) Nina A. Hertzberg
Alma mater United States Naval Academy
Occupation Naval officer
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service 1911 - 1951
Rank Vice admiral
Commands USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
15th Naval District
BatDiv 9
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Navy Cross
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal

Edward William Hanson (February 12, 1889 – October 18, 1959) was a United States Navy Vice admiral and the 28th Governor of American Samoa from June 26, 1938 to July 30, 1940.[1] As Governor of American Samoa, Hanson believed that the native Samoans had a good way of life, and did little to interfere with established practices on the islands.[2]

Early years and World War I

Edward William Hanson was born on February 12, 1889 in Alexandria, Minnesota.[3][4] He attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland and graduated in 1911 with the rank of Ensign.

With the entry of the United States to the World War I, LTJG Hanson was appointed a Commander of USS Dale, Bainbridge-class destroyer, which patrolled the Manila Bay in the summer of 1917. Hanson was ordered to the Gibraltar in the same year. During the voyage to Europe, which was longer than 11,000 miles, USS Dale was under very unfavorable weather conditions. Hanson managed to sail the USS Dale without serious damage, so the ship was ready for immediate participation in the operations against enemy. LTJG Hanson was awarded the Navy Cross for his command of USS Dale.[5]

Navy Cross Citation

Edward W. Hanson was awarded the Navy Cross. The official U.S. Navy citation for his Navy Cross reads:

Action Date: Summer, 1917
Name: Edward William Hanson
Service: Navy
Rank: Lieutenant Junior Grade
Company: Commanding Officer
Division: U.S.S. Dale
Citation: The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant, Junior Grade Edward William Hanson, United States Navy, for exceptionally distinguished service in the line of his profession in Command of the U.S.S. DALE in making the trip of 11,000 miles from Manila, Philippine Islands, to Gibraltar, under very unfavorable weather conditions, during the Summer of 1917, the southwest monsoon being then at its height, and arriving in the Mediterranean with his vessel in readiness for immediate participation in the operations against enemy submarines in the Mediterranean and later in the Atlantic.[6]

Interwar period

After the War, Hanson served on the staff of the Harvard Naval Science Department at Harvard University and subsequently on USS Black Hawk. Hanson also attended the Naval War College in 1925.[7] In 1927, he was transferd to USS West Virginia, where he served as Ship Engineer for almost two years. In the next years, Hanson served alson aboard USS Arkansas, USS Wyoming or USS Texas as a staff officer. Between years 1931-1932 Hanson served back at USS West Virginia as navigator.

In July 1936, Hanson got his first own command, when he was appointed a Commanding officer of the USS Erie, newly launched Gunboat. Hanson commanded the ship during protection of American interests and citizens during the Spanish Civil War. Then USS Erie was used as a training ship for Midshipmen, operating out of United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

On June 26, 1938 was Hanson appointed the Governor of American Samoa. As Governor, he believed that the native Samoans had a good way of life, and did little to interfere with established practices on the islands.[8] At the time of his governorship, he was a Commander.[9]

World War II

At the end of July 1940, Hanson ended his term as a Governor. He was subsequently promoted to the rank of Captain and appointed a Commanding officer of the near Naval Station Tutuila.

In October 1941, he was appointed the commanding officer of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis.[10] A two months later (during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor), Hanson commanded the USS Indianapolis during a training mission conducting a mock bombardment at Johnston Atoll. After attack on Pearl Harbor, Hanson got order to search for Japanese carriers responsible for the attack, though the ship did not locate them.

Hanson subsequently commanded the USS Indianapolis during the New Guinea campaign and also during Aleutian Islands Campaign in Pacific War. He was subsequently appointed a Commander of Battleship Division 9 in July 1942.[11]

Hanson commanded the Battleship Division 9 for the rest of the war and spent this time in the Pacific. In August 1945, Hanson was transferred to Hawaii, where he succeeded Rear admiral William R. Furlong as a Commander of Pearl Harbor Navy Yard.

Postwar service and retirement

On February 13, 1948 Hanson was assumed command of the 15th Naval District, headquartered at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone[12]

Hanson retired from the Navy with the rank of Vice admiral in 1951 and resided in La Jolla, California near San Diego. Edward William Hanson died there on October 18, 1959, aged 70. He is buried together with his wife Nina A. Hanson (1903-1974) at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.[13]


Here is the ribbon bar of Vice Admiral Edward W. Hanson:[14][15]

1st Row Navy Cross Legion of Merit with "V" Device
2nd Row Bronze Star Medal Mexican Service Medal World War I Victory Medal with Destroyer Clasp
3rd Row American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with five Service stars American Campaign Medal
3rd Row World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal Philippine Liberation Medal with two service stars


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