Army veteran, Fairbury resident honored as Jefferson County Veteran of the Month

From Jefferson County Veteran's Service Office application.

Ralph Jensen was born in Cushing, Nebraska at home on March 6, 1927, where he grew up on the family farm. “Back then I remember having to go out and collect corn cobs pretty regularly. We used the corn cobs to start the fire in our cook stove.”

Ralph attended school in District Six and completed high school in Cushing, Nebraska. “Between riding a bike and my horse I missed very little school if any. My father and I had joint farms for a short while. I remember I had all my seeds planted and then in early July, 1945, I was drafted into the U.S. Army. Because I was color blind the Army put me in the infantry. I was shipped off to basic training at Camp Fannin, Texas. After completing basic I was moved to Fort Knox Kentucky. Back then the Tank Corp was stationed at Ft. Knox. Upon arrival I learned I was assigned as the Company Clerk for Company A. Being a tank training facility there were about 300 to 400 service members in and out of the facility all the time. As the company clerk I was responsible for payroll as well as keeping all the training and personnel records for Company A.  As World War II was over training slowed down, but did not stop and the paperwork just kept coming. The paperwork was my job and I did it as well as I could.”

When Ralph was discharged from the U.S. Army in late November, 1946, he returned to Cushing, Nebraska. His plan was to become a farmer like his dad but, not being able to come up with the funds to get into farming he started doing odd jobs for people that just needed some help around the Cushing, Nebraska area.

At one point Ralph heard United Airlines was hiring. It turned out to be a job for six months and he was then laid off.  “At that point I started working for Dier’s Motors in Grand Island, but I found I really did not like doing auto body work. So I went out and got my fuel permit and started delivering fuel. In December, 1952, I went back to work for United Airlines in Moline, Illinois. In March of 1955, I was transferred to Lincoln, Nebraska where I continued working until my retirement in 1984. One day to my surprise my ex-boss called me and told me that I should become a contractor to United Airlines as they needed someone to oversee all the equipment United had in Lincoln. As I was already retired from United I had to become a contractor, so that’s what I did. Later I helped start a program we called the “Red Coat Customer Assistance Program”. We would help people with their baggage and help them get to where they needed to be in the airport.”

In 1951, Ralph married Eleanor Harvey.  “We had one son in early November, 1962. My wife Eleanor passed away in September, 1994. I continued as a contractor with United Airlines where later I met my current wife Jean who was working for another airline right there at the Lincoln Airport. We were married in November, 1996, and here we are today. Once Jean retired and I stopped being a contractor with United, Jean and I have been enjoying our time together. We bought a couple of houses and spent time doing some remodeling and we still work at that some.  Age has interfered with remodeling as we just can’t climb those ladders like we used to. But we continue to enjoy life together and do what we can.”  Both Jean and Ralph have been attending church here in Fairbury but this COVID Pandemic has kept them indoors most of time over the last year.

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