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Hometown Hero: Randall Jansen

Two Rivers Marine Corp veteran goes from chopper pilot in battlefield to cargo transport pilot after wounds in Vietnam.
GREEN BAY, WI. (WFRV) "I thought I don't want there to be a war. But if there's going to be one, I don't want to miss it either."

In the midst of the Cold War, Randall "Ran" Jansen enlisted with the United States Marine Corp in 1961 with hopes of serving in combat. Jansen trained to be a helicopter pilot. He was dispatched to Vietnam in 1964 and flew H-34 choppers. They served as a lifeline to marines in combat zones at high personal risks.

"Anytime we made an assault mission, reconnaissance missions, resupply, med evac, we typically got shot at pretty good," Jansen said.

Jansen would fly 248 missions until his chopper took enemy fire during a supply run.

"My hand that had been on the controls was lying in my lap and blood is everywhere. I thought they shot my arm off," Jansen said. "That's when the doctor told me I'd have limited use of my left arm and my marine corps career was finished."

But during therapy and treatment at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, a doctor's recommendation for "light duty" would put Rand Jansen back into the cockpit.

"So they came to Captain Jansen, who was an adjutant, and he said: "What's the problem?" I said:"Well, I can't reach the ejection seat.", Jansen recalled. " And the general just smiled and said: "C-130's don't have ejection seats. Send him over there."

But two years later, complications from his wounds ended his military career. As a civilian Jansen worked for the postal service, as a community recreation director and a church pastor. He also remained competitive at play.

"I went to the local pro at the golf club and told him my story and he gave me he used and a couple of balls and said: "Show me what you can do," Jansen said. "I shot nine-over par for nine holes and I've been playing ever since."

But Ran Jansen continues to work for Vietnam veterans who never got needed battlefield support and waited for a nation's gratitude. He's still hurt that the whole story of Viet Cong atrocities were never reported until after the war.

"There was another massacre that took place in Hue. Between four-thousand and six-thousand Vietnamese civilians were murdered," Jansen said. "It was never brought up in the newspapers, in magazines or on TV. The reason is the communists did it."

Still, Rand Jansen would fight for country and God today.

"I'm a firm believer in freedom and liberty. And any chance you get to help that, that's what this is all about," he said.


Local 5's Terry Kovarik has the story.


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