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Army Sgt. Warren S. Hansen, 36, of Clintonville, Wis.; assigned to the 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Nov. 15 when two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, Iraq.


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CLINTONVILLE: Soldier who died in Iraq remembered
Associated Press

More than 600 people paid tribute Saturday to a Wisconsin soldier who died when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Iraq.

Area residents also turned out along the route between St. Martin's Lutheran Church and Friendship Cemetery in Embarrass to remember Army Sgt. Warren Hansen. They waved American flags as his funeral procession passed.

"It's a great turnout, and Warren deserves every bit of it," said Kenny Cole, a longtime friend.

Hansen, 36, was one of 17 soldiers killed in the crash Nov. 15 in Mosul, Iraq. He is among eight Wisconsin soldiers to die in Iraq since last spring.

Hansen was known to many by his nickname Woody, and he had earned a reputation for heroism even before his military service. He was 15 when he was given a medal for saving a man from drowning.

Hansen spent 17 years in the military and was due to retire in three years. He took part in Persian Gulf War and had served in Bosnia before his duty in Iraq.

Hansen was assigned to the 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment. He graduated from Clintonville High School.

Community touched by Warren Hansen’s death

By Steve Wideman
Post-Crescent staff writer

CLINTONVILLE — Twelve-year-old Robert Norton walks dogs to earn spending money. Norton’s buddy, Channing Bessette, also 12, recently received some money for a birthday present.

On Saturday, the two Clintonville boys pooled their financial resources and spent $13 to buy a bouquet of red, yellow and pink roses for a hero they barely knew — U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Warren Hansen.

Minutes before the start of funeral services for Hansen, 36, one of 17 U.S. soldiers who died in the Nov. 15 crash of two Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq, the boys pedaled their bikes from a downtown flower shop to St. Martin Lutheran Church to add their roses to hundreds more on display in the church.

“We wanted to show him our thanks that he went into Iraq and supported our country,” Norton said.

The boys were later among several hundred people who lined Clintonville’s Main Street to pay homage to Hansen as a 125-vehicle funeral cortege ushered the fallen soldier’s body on a final journey for burial in Friendship Cemetery north of the city.

“He was a true American hero. Whether you knew Sgt. Hansen or not he deserves our respect for the job he did for us,” said Kathy Bruhnke of Clintonville, who held a large American flag aloft as the funeral procession passed by.

Bruhnke has a nephew from Michigan serving in Iraq with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, the same division in which Hansen served. “I would hope if something happened to my nephew his community would show support like this for him,” Bruhnke said.

Tears flowed freely from the eyes of Kathy Boelter of Clintonville as she held a smaller American flag close to a picture pinned on her coat of her 23-year-old son, Matthew, who is in the Army and scheduled for a second tour of duty in Iraq beginning after Jan. 1.

“Maybe some of why I am crying is guilt because my son got out of Iraq safe. I just want to let Warren’s family know everyone cares. They gave the biggest sacrifice of all — their son,” Boelter said.

Hansen’s death has prompted questioning of the war by some Clintonville residents, said Linda Aiello, co-owner of L&L Style Hair Salon, where the war has become a frequent topic of debate.

“People don’t know what is going to happen next. They feel they are not getting complete information about the war,” Aiello said. “There is support, but increasing concern for our troops. People with sons and daughters in Iraq are more afraid than they used to be. But what can we do for our troops but pray for them?”

Several businesses along the funeral procession route displayed signs offering support for Hansen’s family, including the Trophies & Treasures gift shop where red-white-and blue bunting framed the message “In Honor of SSgt Warren S. Hansen. An American Hero. Forever in Our Hearts.”

A week before Hansen’s death his grandmother ordered a charm bracelet with golden, disc-shaped charms for each grandchild, from shop owner Kathy Schmoll.

On Tuesday, Schmoll received a call from Hansen’s grandmother, this time to engrave her grandson’s death date on one of the tiny discs.

“We all thought Warren would be coming home,” Schmoll said. “He sacrificed his life for the welfare of our country. We put up the sign to let his parents know his sacrifice will not be forgotten.”

“The fact Warren came from a small community like Clintonville doesn’t make his death worse, but it has an effect on many people in the community,” she said.

Sue Hamberger said the war on terror never really hit home, “until it involved someone from our community.”

Hamberger was practicing with the St. Martin choir on Nov. 16 when the group learned of Hansen’s death.

The day was being heralded as “Victory Sunday” in connection with a successful fund-raising effort for planned church improvements.

“Warren’s mother had led a prayer and fast vigil as part of the fund-raiser. Warren had actually participated in the fast from his station in Iraq,” Hamberger said. “Warren’s death has given the community more of an awareness of the war in Iraq and the commitment our men and women in the armed forces are making for our country.”

Steve Wideman can be reached at 920-993-1000, ext. 302 or by e-mail at

Three Wisconsin soldiers die in helicopter crash in Iraq

By C. Antlfinger and M. McCord
Associated Press Writers
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Three Wisconsin soldiers were among 17 killed when two Black Hawk helicopters collided in Iraq in the U.S. military's worst single loss of life since the war began in March.

Saturday's crash in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul also marked the deadliest day for Wisconsin soldiers. The three killed Saturday are among eight Wisconsin soldiers who have died in the war.

The Department of Defense identified the three Sunday as Sgt. Warren S. Hansen, of Clintonville; Spc. Eugene A. Uhl III, of Amherst; and 2nd Lt. Jeremy L. Wolfe, of Menomonie.

The Rev. Vilas Mazemke, Hansen's pastor at St. Martin Lutheran Church in Clintonville, said the soldier's father died in the military, although he didn't know the specifics. Hansen, whose stepfather was a Marine, always wanted to join the military, Mazemke said.

"That's what he wanted to be ever since he was a little guy," Mazemke said.

The three Wisconsin soldiers were members of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky.

Hansen, 36, was assigned to the 9th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment. Uhl, 21, was with the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery. Wolfe, 27, served with the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment.

Uhl would have celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thanksgiving, said his mother, Joan Uhl.

He followed his father and grandfather into the military, she said. His father fought in Vietnam, and his grandfather served in World War II and the Korean War.

"He was proud to be there (in Iraq), proud to be defending the country," Joan Uhl said.

He joined the Army in June 2002 and left for Iraq in February, his mother said. She last saw him in person over Christmas last year, but they saw each other through a camera hooked to the Internet a month ago.

Eugene Uhl was engaged to be married in June. He also is survived by three older sisters and his father. His sisters spoiled their younger brother, Joan Uhl said.

"They were all close with him," she said.

His mother said Uhl wrote a letter recently that only his father was allowed to read.

"It was just he had a bad feeling about what was going to happen," Uhl said.

The 2000 graduate of Amherst High School talked about having a career in the military, attending more school and living in Kentucky. He even asked his family to follow him there, his mother said.

"He was serious, but yet he was very outgoing," his mother said. "He was sometimes a prankster, very caring and full of life."

Mazemke, who has known Hansen for about 12 years, said the two never discussed the possibility that Hansen might die in the military like his father.

"We always talked about that there was a strong possibly no matter what you do or where you are at _ you just do the best you can where you are at," he said.

Hansen's stepfather, James Karlson, was too choked up to say much when contacted Sunday evening.

"We're just trying to get everything together," he said. "We're devastated right now."

Mazemke, who called Hansen a "fantastic guy," said the soldier would help stage patriotic services at the church when he was home.

Hansen sent his pastor an e-mail Wednesday that said he expected to return home in March, when he could help with a church service.

He said Hansen, who traveled with the military and left for Iraq last spring, repaired and inspected helicopters but also flew them from time to time.

"He was proud of being in the service, very proud to serve," he said.

He said Hansen wasn't married but had a brother who lives in California and younger stepbrother in Clintonville.

"He's very handsome and very decorated. He has numerous awards," he said. "He was a very good troop, one of high morale."

A Menomonie man who identified himself as Wolfe's father was too upset to talk about his son's death when reached Sunday night.

"It's been a long few hours and we haven't been to sleep since Saturday. It's terrible," the man said.

Mazemke, who graduated from Clintonville High School, had a strong relationship with the church.

"Every time he would come in ... he would also go with me up to the high school and talk to the young people when they would have classes in the history of war or something like that," he said.

Mazemke discussed Hansen's death during his church service Sunday morning, and parishioners prayed for the soldier's family.

"We went to church and the first thing our minister says I have some news that is very sad," said parishioner Darlene Hanson, who knew Hansen through church. "It was hard. We were supposed to have a happy church service today and there was a tear in everyone's eye."