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Stories of Honor celebrates U.S. men and women who have served their country in any branch of the military.
This weekly series will continue through Aug. 4. To nominate a veteran, go to journalstar.com/storiesofhonor.

Marine Sgt. Hoenig
made maps that helped
defeat Japan in WWII
DENNIS BUCKLEY

The year was 1943, and
Jack Hoenig was decoding
Japanese messages, working for the U.S. government
in Washington, D.C. Feeling that he was not doing
enough to serve his country, the 23-year-old Lincoln
man enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.
He was eventually assigned
to the Pacific Theater of Operations on the Northern
Mariana Island of Saipan.
Although measuring only
5.6 miles wide and 12 miles
long, it was a significant
stronghold of Japanese
forces during World War II
and a strategic location for
mainland Japan’s defense.
After a month-long journey aboard a ship from the
U.S., Sgt. Hoenig arrived at
the completion of the battle
for Saipan, a Japanese-controlled island and the location of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
During a three-week battle,
3,500 American lives were
lost, and 13,000 Americans
were wounded in order to
gain control of the small-

but-significant piece of
land.
Some
27,000
Japanese
fought to their death and
thousands of Saipan civilians – hearing false propaganda that the Americans
would torture and kill them
– committed suicide by
jumping off nearby cliffs.
Hoenig, who acquired camera and blueprinting expertise through employment
at Pat Ash Photography, a
downtown Lincoln camera
store, became a photo-topographer for the military,
inspecting and analyzing
aerial photographs and
film, and making maps.
The military tapped his
expertise in photography,
geography, model making,
and surveying. Sgt. Hoenig
made some of the maps that
helped defeat Japan.
AERIAL ATTACK
In August 1945, nearby Tinian Island was the launching
point for the Boeing B-29
Superfortress that delivered
atomic bombs to Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, Japan. The
bombing resulted in Japan’s

surrender a few weeks later,
which shortened the war
and saved countless American lives.
After the aerial attack on
Japan, Marine Sgt. Hoenig was among the first
Americans to arrive in the
bombed-out Japanese cities.
The group became eyewitnesses to the historic devastation that resulted from
the world’s first deployed
atomic bombs. Sgt. Hoenig’s assignment: to map
the epicenter of the bombed
cities and document the
destruction, which officials
later estimated at between
129,000 and 226,000 Japanese lives.
The aftereffects of radiation associated with the
atomic bomb posed longterm health risks danger
for those exposed. “We
didn’t even think of that
back then,” Hoenig, who
will turn 99 in July, reflected
during a recent interview in
his southeast Lincoln home.
“We were concerned with
our own survival and returning home safely.”

Marine Sgt. Jack Hoenig

Jack Hoenig retired in 1980 following
a fire that clamed the National Manufacturing Company building in Lincoln.

HONORS RECEIVED
Upon his honorable discharge in 1946, Sgt. Hoenig
received a Good Conduct
Medal, Honorable Service
Lapel Button and the Marine Corps Discharge Button.
Returning to Lincoln, he
became general manager of
National Manufacturing in
Lincoln. He was active for
many years with Lincoln
Rotary Club No. 14 and volunteered for the Food Bank
of Lincoln and at what was
then Bryan Memorial Hospital. He continues to be an
active member of First Presbyterian Church in Lincoln.
In 2009, Hoenig realized a
lifelong dream of returning to the jewel island of
Saipan under much different circumstances. Two
of the island’s residents –

Hoenig’s granddaughter,
Carrie (Knight) Schuler and
her husband, Kirk – helped
arrange the visit of Hoenig, his wife Marilynn, his
daughter Jackie (Hoenig)
Knight and Dean Knight.
Carrying a black-and-white
album of hundreds of photos of Saipan he had taken
in the 1940s, Hoenig found
no signs of what he had
remembered from 60-plus
years ago.
“The island had become a
dense, overgrown jungle,”
recalled Hoenig, who met
with the governor of the
island and received the
World War II Saipan Service Medial, inscribed with
“Our Grateful Islands Remember,” for his service to
the Island of Saipan.

HELP US SALUTE
THOSE WHO SERVED
They are ordinary men and women; they are our family
members, neighbors and friends. Their stories of extraordinary courage and sacrifice while serving in the armed
forces command our respect and gratitude.
Help us honor and thank these local American heroes
who have served or are serving at home and abroad by
nominating them for the Journal Star Stories of Honor
campaign.

Select stories will then be featured weekly on Sunday in
the Journal Star and on journalstar.com through August
4. At the conclusion of the program, each honoree and
their families will be recognized at an event before a
Saltdogs game at Haymarket Park on August 4.
Businesses or organizations who are interested in partnering with the Journal Star on this program are encouraged to contact Deanna Walz at 402.473.7161.

The Stories of Honor campaign is now accepting nominations of local veterans and active-duty military personnel
from all branches of the armed forces through June 16,
2019 at journalstar.ctom/storiesofhonor.

Submit stories now at JournalStar.com/StoriesofHonor

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