Flag Flies for Herbert Jannsen

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In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Korean War veteran Herbert Jannsen by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of January.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Jannsen for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen.

The American flag was raised during a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on Jan. 22. During the event, high school trumpet players performed the “Armed Forces March,” and high school VFW Voice of Democracy essayist Lily Spellman read her essay, titled “My Vision for America.”

Jannsen was born in 1930 in Weinheim, Germany, and at the age of 1, he and his family moved to Foehr Island in the North Sea, about 50 miles from Denmark. While on the island, the Jannsen family operated a taxi and tour bus company. When his father passed away suddenly at the age of 48, Jannsen took over the family business to help his mother and two sisters.

As World War II left much of Europe in shambles and many European countries in dire financial conditions, Jannsen decided to seek his fortune in the United States. With relatives on Long Island vouching for him, he was able to immigrate to New York in 1952.

Jannsen worked at various jobs for about a year until 1953, when he was drafted into the Army. He was sent to basic training at Camp Kilmer in New Jersey and then to Camp Gordon in Georgia for advanced training as a pole lineman in the signal corps. With the United States involved in the Korean War, it wasn’t long after training that Jannsen was deployed to Korea.

In Korea, Jannsen was stationed in Wijambu, a small town near Seoul. After nearly two years in Korea, he became a U.S. citizen. In the spring of 1955, he was honorably discharged and sent back to the U.S. Though discharged, he remained in the inactive reserves for several years.

After returning to civilian life, Jannsen purchased a deli in West Babylon and ran the business for 12 years. He then opened a stationery store in Southampton in 1974. After finding it difficult to commute to Southampton, Jannsen and his new wife, Rosemary, moved to Hampton Bays. There they raised their daughter, Donna, who now works at the Hampton Bays Public Library.

Jannsen was honored with a citizenship award from the Town of Southampton, as well as a number of other awards and citations for his service while in Korea. He retired from his stationery store in 2013 and now enjoys his retirement in Hampton Bays.