Craig’s Zach Hansen soldiers on as 3rd-generation U.S. Marine | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig’s Zach Hansen soldiers on as 3rd-generation U.S. Marine

Hansen returns home for a week to see friends, family

Noelle Leavitt Riley

The men and women who serve the United States of America are branded with honor the moment they join the armed services, and that's exactly what happened to Zach Hansen when he entered the Marine Corps after he graduated Moffat County High School in 2012.

Hansen, who is now 20 years old, was shipped off to boot camp where he learned discipline, organization, and above all else, how to be a Marine.

"It sucked," he said of boot camp, noting that it was a grueling time. Yet, he appreciates what it taught him.

As a member of the U.S. military, Hansen follows in his father and grandfather's footsteps, both of whom served in the Marines. His father died from lung cancer in 2007 and never had the opportunity to see his son join the U.S. armed forces.

"It's kind of something I always wanted to do," Hansen said of joining the Marines.

When he signed up for the job, he had no idea where he would be assigned. It was of great comfort to his mom Debbie Hansen when he was told he would be a mechanic. The Marines gave him an option of being a diesel mechanic or an aircraft mechanic, and Hansen chose the former.

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He currently works on V-22 Ospreys, which are "plopters," meaning they operate as both a helicopter and an airplane.

"I inspect it and make sure it's good to fly," he said. "I'm the last set of eyes on it before it takes flight."

Hansen is in Craig through Sunday, visiting his mom, friends and his girlfriend. When he leaves, he'll head back to San Diego, continuing his commitment he made to America as a Marine.

"I am very proud," Debbie said of her son. "I don't like him leaving, but it's made him appreciate me a lot more."

Although his service has kept him out of combat in parts of the Middle East, he has visited Singapore, Hong Kong, Djibouti, Africa and Oman, which is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula.

He's about half way through his five year commitment with the Marines, and he looks forward to taking what he's learned as an aviation mechanic and applying it to a different job once he's released.

Ideally, he'd like to work on for a big aviation company like Boeing, fixing aircraft.

When asked how proud she was of her son, Debbie said, "You have no idea. I don't know how you can describe proud."

Reach Noelle Leavitt Riley at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com. Follow her on Twitter @noelleleavitt.

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