Marquette University NROTC alumni honored Captain Joseph S. Hanson, USMC, as the 2014 Young Alumnus of the Year, for his outstanding and courageous service during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The award was presented by the Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Association at the 239th Navy and Marine Corps Birthday Ball on 25 October, 2014 at the Wisconsin Club.
Joseph Hanson earned his Bachelor of Political Science degree and Marine Corps commission at Marquette and its NROTC Unit in 2009. He graduated from Officers Basic School and Infantry Officers’ Courses at Quantico, VA and in August, 2010 he became a rifle and combined anti-terror platoon commander in K Company, Third Battalion, Fourth Marine Division at Twentynine Palms, California.
Hanson has completed two seven-month deployments to Helmand Province in support of “Operation Enduring Freedom.” His decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, with Combat Distinguishing Device; Combat Action Ribbon; and Purple Heart, with Gold Star in lieu of a second award.
In Afghanistan in April, 2011, Hanson was ordered to secure an eight-kilometer major supply route in Upper Gereshk Valley. He assigned his fifty Marines and Sailors to four defensive positions on that route. But on 15 May, during a dismounted recon patrol, he and his men were ambushed and pinned down by twelve to fifteen heavily-armed enemy insurgents - and took one immediate casualty. Hanson requested a casualty evacuation. He then led a counterattack to destroy immediate threats, and secure the casualty evacuation. Once the enemy was repelled, and the evacuation was successful, Hanson led his men back to safety. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in May 2011.
On 27 May, 2011, Hanson’s platoon was providing security for a Police Mentor Team and seventy-five Afghan Police, preventing placement of improvised explosive devices. The unit came under attack from enemy insurgents who were armed with machine guns and under-barrel grenade launchers, positioned on a rooftop less than two hundred yards away. Lieutenant Hanson’s unit suffered three immediate casualties, while Hanson was stunned by a grenade. Still under fire but recovering, Hanson led a counterattack that allowed the wounded to receive triage and lifesaving treatment prior to successful medical evacuation.On 2 July, 2011, Hanson and his squad were on a routine patrol when they came under precision fire from two enemy positions. Hanson immediately suffered a gunshot wound to his chest, but was able to move his squad to cover. From there, using his own snipers and a 500-pound bomb, Hanson and his squad destroyed the enemy position.
One month later during Operation Cowboys, Company K conducted a heliborne assault in the enemy-occupied Green Zone. Lieutenant Hanson’s platoon cleared eight breaches with explosives to open safe maneuvering paths. During this operation, seven enemy positions rained down a deluge of mortar, precision, machine gun and grenade fire on Hanson’s platoon for three hours during two engagements, from within fifty meters distance. Lieutenant Hanson led his platoon in repelling the insurgents.
In December, 2011, Hanson was transferred to Weapons Company in command of Combined Anti-Terror Team Two. This began 14 months of preparation for a return to Afghanistan. In September, 2012, Hanson attended the Marine Corps Special Operations Command’s rigorous one-month assessment program. As a result he was selected for that program’s Individual Training Course.
Captain Hanson returned to his battalion, and deployed to Afghanistan again in February, 2013. From 1 March to 15 July of 2013, Hanson conducted over one hundred mounted and dismounted security patrols in the dangerous Kajaki District, in support of Afghan Security Forces. For this assignment, he received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Returning to the U.S., Captain Hanson graduated in October 2014 from the year-long Marine Corps Special Operations Individual Training Course at Stone Bay, North Carolina. He will be stationed with the First Raider Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California. He grew up in Neenah, Wisconsin. His parents are Craig and Caroline Hanson of Lafayette, Indiana.