Dennis Dean Hatzenbuehler joined the Naval Reserves in 1941 and went to the Great Lakes region for training. He had some typing experience and so went to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi to work in an office as a typist. While working at this office, he met his wife, Phalba. She was the personnel officer’s daughter.
After Pearl Harbor, Hatzenbuehler moved out of the office and became in charge of airplane maintenance. He eventually transferred to Norfolk, Virginia, where he worked as an inspector for aircraft engines. In 1944, Hatzenbuehler moved to the aircraft carrier Intrepid. The Intrepid did not get too far from port before Japanese kamikazes attacked. Hatzenbuehler experienced a total of three kamikaze attacks while he was on the Intrepid.
After World War II ended, Hatzenbuehler stayed in the Navy. He then served shore duty in Rhode Island. During this time, he flew in B-24s photographing for the State Department. In 1952, Hatzenbuehler transferred to a training base in Hutchinson, Kansas. A few years later, he went to Hawaii where he was responsible for supervising other mechanics and inspecting airplanes. Hatzenbuehler then completed three tours in Vietnam doing surveillance work. Soon after his time in Vietnam, he retired from the service in 1970.
Afterward, he soon went to work in Pratt, Kansas, as a court bailiff. Hatzenbuehler was very active in the Catholic Church. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, American Legion, and the Elks Lodge.
Hatzenbuehler passed away in 2013. More of his story can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.48950/.
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Taryn Gehman
Graphic artist: Deanna Cannon