Fergus veteran evaded sharks [UPDATED]Published 4:02am Monday, November 4, 2013 Updated 6:12am Monday, November 4, 2013
World War II veteran Erwin Hensch served Fergus Falls in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a manager in city government. As a military veteran and member of the Greatest Generation, he felt fortunate to be alive.
With Veterans Day coming quickly upon us, it’s good to pay tribute to Hensch who was 93 when he died Oct. 15 at a senior living center in Crosby, a community northeast of Brainerd.
As a sailor serving in World War II, Hensch was aboard the USS Indianapolis which was sunk in July 1945 by enemy fire in the Pacific Theatre. Only 317 of the approximate 900 crew members thrown into the water survived shark attacks and a five-day ordeal.
His story was told by Minneapolis Star Tribune writer Paul Walsh.
“I was absolutely determined to make it because I had a wife at home and had only been with her a few times since we were married,” said Hensch several years before his passing. “I didn’t give up.”
The several hundred men had only a few lifeboats and a few supplies over the five-day period.
Survivors said that sharks swam just below their dangling feet. One by one the sharks began to pick off the men on the outer perimeter of the clustered groups.
“Agonizing screams filled the air day and night,” wrote Walsh. “They never knew who would be the next victim. The ordeal left Hensch, the ship’s assistant chief engineer and a Navy lieutenant, 25 pounds lighter and ailing.”
With the passing of Hensch, there are no longer any Minnesotans who were aboard the USS Indianapolis. A memorial service will be held Nov. 23 in Crosby.
Picking up the tab for Madoff
Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme victims included mom and pop investors here in Minnesota and across the nation. Many people lost their life savings.
Madoff confessed to the fraud in December 2008 and pleaded guilty the following year.
Once living in luxury, he’s now in prison for life.
The good news, and rightfully so, is that the court trustee is trying to recover millions of dollars that Madoff stole. Those mom and pop investors, in the end, will hopefully recover at least of portion of their well-earned dollars.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has been petitioned to issue the final word on whether JPMorgan Chase should pay for taking little action on suspicious activity in Madoff’s account at the bank,” reports USA Today.
According to the trustee’s petition, JPMorgan’s chief risk officer, John Hogan, warned upper management about 18 months before the fraud collapsed. Hogan surmised that Madoff and his returns were most likely part of a Ponzi scheme.
“But the bank’s response was to assign a junior employee to see what a Google search could turn up about Madoff,” reported USA Today staff writer Kevin McCoy.
Also ignoring warnings about Madoff, until it was too late, were employees of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
Madoff’s returns were too good to be true. In the end, his investors learned the hard way that consistent returns of 12 percent could only be achieved through fraud.
Most investors know that financial returns can and do fluctuate from one year to another. Be sure to work with reputable financial advisors.
Their advice is diversification with a wide variety of investments and not putting all your eggs into one basket.
Five former Madoff employees, notes USA Today, are currently on trial in New York on charges they were knowing participants in the scheme.
As for JPMorgan, the financial institution could also face criminal liability for its long financial relationship with Madoff.
It would serve them right, since they themselves skimmed off significant amounts of Madoff money. They weren’t concerned about those mom and pop investors.
Hopefully, we as a society have learned some things from the Madoff fiasco. Time will tell.