through the ranks
are at least a couple reasons why Brig. Gen. Andrew Hansen,
United States Air Force, Europe-United Kingdom, formerly of
Klamath Falls, almost didn’t achieve his dreams of flight.
nearsightedness and a tendency for motion sickness at first
kept piloting a fighter jet out of reach for Hansen, such
obstacles were no match for the 1988 Henley High graduate’s
drive and determination to achieve his wings.
the past month, the U.S. Air Force promoted Hansen to
brigadier general. He is stationed with his wife and two
sons in Mildenhall, England, in Suffolk County. From there
he travels extensively as the senior military representative
to the U.K. at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall, England, to
bases around the region.
never really did what I did — in all sincerity — to make
rank,” Hansen told the H&N in a phone interview on Monday.
“It was just kind of a validation that I was on the right
the journey hasn’t been easy, his persistence has only
increased throughout his career.
didn’t have the eyesight to qualify for being a pilot,”
Hansen said. “Folks went to bat for me to get a waiver for
my eyesight to go fly, to be a pilot. And so, here I am
today,” Andrew said.
only would Hansen fly — he’s logged more than 2,300 flight
hours in a F-15E and an F-16 in his career so far — but
throughout his life, Hansen would soar past seemingly
insurmountable odds to reach his goals.
48-year-old said that none of this would have been a
reality, had it not been for a pivotal conversation with his
dad, Harry Hansen, as a fourth-grader in Tulelake.
need to pick what you want to do and go for it,” Hansen
recalled his dad telling him.
who taught school in Tulelake for 35 years, reminded Andrew
at the time that the family didn’t have a farm to depend on
for income. He told Andrew he could go far beyond Klamath
Falls if he focused on setting and reaching for his goals.
the same time, Harry and Carolyn moved their family from
Tulelake to Klamath Falls, where they currently live, so
their children could attend larger schools.
started to focus on school and started to get better
grades,” Andrew Hansen said. “For whatever reason, that just
kind of clicked at that point in my life. I knew exactly
what I wanted to do, and everything I did was directed
toward that goal.”
poured his heart into everything he did, from participating
in school government and in cross country and track at
Henley High, activities he thoroughly enjoyed as a Hornet.
work ethic was no different following high school, an
element of character he’s carried on throughout his career.
Navy, and Air Force all offered ROTC scholarships, and I
chose the Air Force,” Hansen said.
earned his flight navigator wings in 1995, which helped him
toward his goal of piloting an aircraft.
on, he was recommended for a waiver and earned his pilot
wings in 1999. Among three masters degrees, he earned a
masters in aeronautical science from Embry Riddle
Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., in 2002.
Throughout his 25-year career, he has served in nearly 20
military assignments that have taken him all over the world.
He circumnavigated the globe twice, by way of Italy, South
Korea, Japan, as well as assignments stateside in the South
and Northwestern United States.
everything he’s done has been with a heart of persistence to
be the best he can be.
had people in my career that have kind of gone to bat for me
to put me in positions hoping that I would succeed, and I
was always hoping to do right by them for giving me those
opportunities,” Andrew said.
was about trying to be the best that I could as opposed to
tying it to promotion, so the promotion came with the
mindset of improvement.”
Military service in his blood
military service on both sides of his family, it’s easy to
see why Andrew joined up in the first place.
grandpa on his father’s side was a deep sea diver in the
U.S. Navy who dove to excavate materials from sunken ships
following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and after Japan
occupied the Philippines.
Andrew’s grandfather on his mother’s side served as an Army
Air Corps medic in Pearl Harbor. As the story goes, his
grandfather was attending church during the bombing at Pearl
still keeps his grandfather’s prayerbook with him, a gift
bestowed him earlier on in his career.
certainly provided a lot of the inspiration for me wanting
to go in the military, and probably why I’ve stuck with it,
despite all the challenges,” he added.
“There’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing because
there’s nothing that has the impact.”
Hansen’s parents, Harry and Carolyn Hansen, of Klamath
Falls, waited for their son to call on Monday morning, the
pair sifted through news clippings and awards he earned over
telephone’s rang out in the living room, and Harry excitedly
picked it up.
than 5,000 miles between the Hansens and their son fell away
as Harry spoke into the landline phone.
this somebody I know?” Harry quipped, with a smile at
hearing his son’s voice. “Hi Andrew, how are you doing? …
Well, by golly, we’re doing excellent.”
Carolyn, sitting on the couch nearby, chimed in for her
childhood sweetheart and husband of nearly 50 years – an
anniversary they’ll celebrate in August – to put the phone
on speaker mode.
call was highly anticipated, since visits with their son are
few and far in between with his travels.
surprise that he announced was not anticipated.
Hansens smiled as Andrew shared plans to visit his parents
in Klamath Falls in November, the soonest he could visit to
celebrate their anniversary.
the morning light shining into the Hansen’s living room in
Klamath Falls, Andrew, talking over speaker phone from
England, shared that it was early evening across the pond.
history and the bond between the U.K. and the United States
is amazing over here, and it’s all tied to that time
period,” Hansen said.
“That’s what makes being over here right now even that much
also talked of new duties at his position, of family – of
his wife, two teen boys, and a Great Dane named Remington –
and of their new home in England, and of course of plans on
base for Independence Day.
the bases have fireworks over here and events throughout the
day, so it’s a pretty big deal that each of the three wings
are putting on over here,” Andrew said.
die-hard patriotism,” he added.
we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
as Hansen has reached a milestone in his career, he
acknowledged that he hasn’t forgotten where he came from.
had chance meetings with those connected with the Klamath
Basin, including making a connection with a 92-year-old
World War II widow whose husband was stationed at Kingsley
Field in Klamath Falls.
Hansen’s parents, most obviously proud of their son, his
accomplishments haven’t changed the son they love.
mother, Carolyn, said with a laugh, that even as a one-star
general, she still “outranks” him.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C.
section 107, any copyrighted material
herein is distributed without profit or
payment to those who have expressed a
prior interest in receiving this
information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only. For more
information go to: