Jens Verner & Otto Knudsen
Jens Verner & Otto Knudsen.
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Jens Verner Knudsen was born in Faaborg, in southwestern Funen, in 1902. He was five years old when his family came to the U.S. The family settled in Kenmare, North Dakota, where Jens graduated from high school in 1919. Later he went to New York to attend college and obtain a nursing degree. During this time he joined the National Guard, where he rose to the rank of sergeant in the medical and ambulance corps (and got to wear a ‘Smokey the Bear’ hat!). For many years he lived and worked in the metro New York City area, but when one of his children was diagnosed with tuberculosis the family moved to California. After Pearl Harbor, Jens felt that with his medical experience it was his duty to enlist in the Navy, where he became a Chief Pharmacist’s Mate. He saw duty on the U.S.S. Priceand saw action in both the Atlantic and Pacific. After the war he returned to California, moving to San Diego, where he died at the Veterans’ Hospital in 1960.
Otto Knudsen, Jens Verner’s younger brother, was born in Faaborg in 1903 and was almost four when his family emigrated. His only memory of the voyage was when his father opened a porthole for a little fresh air and water poured in, frightening the small boy. After the family had moved to Brooklyn in 1920 Otto came back west to Blair, Nebraska, and attended Dana College. Here he met his wife, Dagny Nissen, a 3rd-generation Danish-American. After their marriage in 1925 they farmed in the Dannebrog, Nebraska, area, and later moved to Boone, where Otto was employed by the Federal Land Bank. When WWI broke out Otto too joined the Navy. After training at Great Lakes Naval Air Station, he was assigned to San Diego, and attained the rank of Pharmacist Mate Third Class. A year after his enlistment, Otto’s son Don also joined the Navy, following nearly identically in his father’s footsteps. After the war Otto returned to Nebraska and resumed his real estate practice. He died in 1971. [source: The Shepherd of Fjelstervang: Pastor Jens Knudsen and his Flock].