KNOX — As a distinguished military man and a Lutheran, Paul Janssen had a firm grasp of the instruments of country, faith, and family.
Paul Gaige Janssen died on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013, at the Lebanon Valley Brethren Home in Palmyra, Pa. He was 86.
He was born to the late Albert and Nina Janssen in 1926, and grew up on their farm in Knox before joining the United States Marine Corps.
As an infantry Marine, Mr. Janssen fought during World War II in the Pacific Theater, on the islands of Bougainville and Okinawa, and was wounded on both campaigns.
Mr. Janssen then attended Navy flight school in Pensacola, Fla. when the Korean Conflict began and flew 117 missions on an extended tour of duty. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
During the last of two tours he served during the Vietnam War, he was in command of Marine Air Group 12 at Iwakuni, Japan from 1973 to 1974.
After 31 years and three wars, Mr. Janssen retired in 1975 as a full colonel and spent 24 years as a corporate Learjet pilot for various firms.
“We’re all very proud of him,” said Shirley Janssen, his sister-in-law.
Mr. Janssen was married for over 61 years to Jean Claire Sacks, of Hellertown, Pa., a union that ended only with his death. She was a member of the United States Naval Reserve’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), started during World War II.
They raised three children as Mr. Janssen worked in various locations while in the military. Despite his travels, he would see family at reunions every three or four years, Mrs. Janssen said, playing with and teasing his children and grandchildren.
“They all adored and loved their Grandpa,” his family wrote in a tribute. The barn at the Knox farm where he grew up was in need of new siding, and he didn’t want to see it fall into disrepair. Mr. Janssen restored it with the help of relatives, as Rick Janssen recalled, writing in the online funeral-home guestbook about Mr. Janssen’s facility with a nail gun while standing on scaffolding.
“He was so impressed that Paul had climbed up so high,” said Mrs. Janssen.
“His Christian faith and church service were as important to him as his service to his country,” wrote his family. “A life-long Lutheran, he served many roles in numerous churches throughout his post-Marine life. Above all, he enjoyed providing for and spending time with his family; and his family will love him forever.”
Paul Gaige Janssen is survived by his wife, Jean Claire Sacks; their children, Thalia Jeanne Hagerup and her husband, Jack, of Dranesville, Va., Paul Gaige Janssen Jr. and his wife, Cheryl, of Doylestown, Pa., and David Gaige Janssen and his wife, Lisa, of Hershey, Pa.; their nine grandchildren; and their two great-grandchildren with a third on the way.
His siblings, Earl Janssen, James Janssen, and Sophie Haverly, died before him, as did his parents, Albert and Nina Janssen.
Services were held at the Buse Funeral Home, in Palmyra, Pa., on Feb. 22. Interment at Arlington National Cemetery will follow at a later date.
Donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior project at www.woundedwarriorproject.org. Post Office Box 758517 Topeka, KS 66675.
— Marcello Iaia