Posted by: arbeam | February 28, 2013

Two area Pearl Harbor survivors pass on

POULSBO — The ranks of local Pearl Harbor survivors continued to dwindle with the recent passing of two sailors who repelled the Japanese surprise attack from their ships. Gerhard “Jerry” Jensch, of Poulsbo, died Feb. 21 at Martha and Mary Nursing Home. He was 93. Don Green, of Allyn, passed away Monday at Washington State Veterans Home in Retsil. He was 90.

USS PyroGreen was a shipfitter on the ammunition ship USS Pyro in the West Loch ammo depot about a half-mile from the battleships. When Japanese planes began filling the sky, the 19-year-old and other crew members manned the ship’s guns and began firing. A dive bomber released a bomb that landed on the dock about 12 feet from the ship. It penetrated the concrete and exploded underneath, jarring the ship, but didn’t ignite any explosives that were aboard or surrounding it. The Pyro suffered no serious damage and was credited with damaging one Japanese plane.

Don Green

Don Green

Green, of New Bedford, Mass., and his twin brother were accepted into the Navy on their 18th birthday and served together for a while on the Pyro. He spent 20 years in the Navy, retiring in 1960. His second retirement was in 1978 from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where he was a Shop 56 pipefitter foreman.

Green was a member of the Donald K. Ross chapter of Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, including a stint as the Washington state chairman. He enjoyed giving public talks about his Pearl Harbor experiences.  Don was active in our Bremerton Olympic Peninsula Navy League Council. He always attended our Navy League luncheons, up until last October, when he notified us that we would probably have to get a different “bell ringer” for our Nov 12th Veterans Day event out at the fairgrounds. For a complete obituary, click here.

USS California (BB-44) at Ford Island.

USS California (BB-44) at Ford Island.

Jensch was a gunner’s mate aboard the USS California (BB-44). The ship, hit by torpedoes and bombs, sank at its moorings. One hundred and five crew members were killed. Jensch helped man a 5-inch anti-aircraft gun before abandoning ship. The swimmers headed to Ford Island. “I was halfway there, swimming, and I noticed these little pinpoints of water, water spouts,” “The fighter planes, they were strafing us.” Jensch wasn’t hit, and took shelter under some pipes in the harbor. But the Navy believed he had perished in the attack and notified his parents, and his obituary appeared on the front page of his hometown paper in Saginaw, Mich. The Navy figured out that he was alive a few days later and informed his family with a telegraph.

Gerhard Jensch Pearl Harbor Survivior,USS California (BB-44)

Gerhard Jensch

Jensch was born July 28, 1919, in Stendal, Germany. He moved to Saginaw when he was 9 years old and attended school there. In 1939 he joined the Navy. He left the Navy in 1947 and owned and operated a dairy refrigeration business in Long Beach, Calif.

After retiring, he found his childhood sweetheart, Pat Hanna, in Port Ludlow. They were together for 20 years. He enjoyed fishing between Catalina Island and Long Beach, was active in the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and at Martha and Mary, and was a top-level amateur radio operator.

Kitsap Sun Article


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