Tribute to Clayton Hanson
On November 13, 2000, Clayton Hanson (Hannah) passed away. He was a very active member of Walter H.Strand VFW Post 950, .an advocate for veterans and a friend of many. He passed away after a six year battle with cancer,
Clayton joined the Army in 1968 and served in Vietnam with the Army Corps of Engineers, earning the Purple Heart. The very night he was discharged from the Service, he looked up his old buddy, Gerry Doring, and they went bar hopping to celebrate. While walking past Post 950 on their way to another bar they decided to stop in for "one". They were treated with such friendliness and hospitality by the WWII'ers that they joined immediately and have been members ever since.
He joined the VFW golf league and bowling leagues and played in both for over 30 years. He enjoyed playing card s at the Club and could be seen there anytime there was a tournament or game to be played. 'In 1983 he became active in the club operations and served as Chaplain, Junior Vice Commander and Senior Vice Commander before serving as Commander in 1986-1987. He was awarded the honor of being All State Commander for his work during his year as commander. After his year as commander, he served as Trustee and then served several terms on the Club Board. He also marched in the color guard and held watch on the honor guard.
When the Vietnam Veterans of Southern Minnesota started to get organized, he became active' in this organization and was one of the founding fathers of this organization.. He marched in the color guard and helped with many worthwhile projects of the VVSM. He was also one of the veteran volunteers, that went into schools to rely to them the realities of war.
While attending a State VFW 'Convention as a delegate he learned about the VFW Special Olympics Program, for disabled adults. 'He could see that this was a terrific program and was aware , that it was not being offered in the Mankato area. In 1985.he took it upon himself to start a Special 0lympics Softball program in Mankato and fielded a team of twelve participants. This program proved to be successful and grew each year until last year were sixty three participants playing on five different teams. The ability level varied from two T-ball teams to three teams with increasingly advanced abilities. The volunteer coaching staff increased from just himself in the first year to eleven volunteers last year. Although his teams took home some medals and first place finishes, Clayt’s philosophy was to make sure each participant was . allowed equal playing time and to stress that the participants have fun in what they were doing. In 1998, Clayt brought the State Special Olympics Softball Tournament to Mankato, and, we hosted 20+ teams consisting of about 250 athletes from throughout Minnesota.
In 1990, when the Vietnam 'Veterans Last Man's 'Club held it s first meeting, Clayt was elected as Secretary/Treasurer and held this position until 2000
.In addition to his involvement in Veterans programs, he was Santa Claus to many. In the early 1970's, he- bought a Santa Claus suit and played Santa Claus at various organization’s Christmas parties and special groups. He never accepted any money for doing this, but would accept donations for the Ronald McDonld House.
He will be remembered by the members of Post 950, all veterans, his friends and the community.
Reveille Offical Publication Walter H. Strand Post No. 950, Mankato, MN. January/February 2001 pg. 2