Colonel James Morris Hamilton, Jr.
James first enlisted on Active Duty with the Student Army Training Corps from August of 1918 until February of 1919, under the Reserve Officer Training Corps during his attendance at the University of Arkansas as a student of engineering. His enlistment with R.O.T.C. was from 1918 until 1922 when James graduated with a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering from the University. On May 6, 1927, he joined the Enlisted Reserve Corps under the rank of Staff Sergeant in the 377th Infantry Regiment, 95th Division, headquartered in city of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, where at the time he was living. On February 27, 1928, James submitted his application for a commission to officer status in the United States Army; and on April 30, 1928, James was honorably discharged to be appointed and accepted as a Second Lieutenant, Infantry Branch in the Officer's Reserve Corps on May 1, 1928. Being an officer with his unit, he periodically left Tulsa for Active Duty training during the next few years and on May 28, 1931 was promoted to First Lieutenant followed by more yearly Reserve training. When James went up for promotion to Captain, he was accepted on May 8, 1936, but the promotion was vacated shortly afterwards on May 19, 1936, due to an uncaught clerical error not noted for several years; he was re-instated as a First Lieutenant on that same date. On July 14, 1936 James was ordered to Fort Sill in Oklahoma to train at the Field Artillery School and nothing followed until March 28, 1941, when James was ordered to Active Duty status with a promotion back to Captain on April 7, 1941. Also, from March 28, 1941 until May 1, 1941, James attended the Armored Force School evaluated by the Department of Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium. He was then assigned to S-3 under 756th Tank Battalion at Fort Lewis in Washington and systematically promoted to the rank of Major on October 15, 1941. From March 16, 1942 to February 4, 1943, James served under the title of Group Executive and Operations Officer for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Third Tank Group stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington, during which time he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on May 29, 1942. From February 5, 1943 until that dreadful day on August 10, 1944, James served as Battalion Commander of the 737th Tank Battalion. As his last promotion in military service, James was promoted to Colonel (Honorary) on June 3, 1947 and below is in detail of events leading up to what happened on that day, August 10, 1944:
The 737th Tank Battalion landed on Omaha Beach on July 12 - 13, 1944 and at that time was assigned to the 35th Infantry Division, First Army. After the capture of Saint Lo in France, the tank battalion was then transferred to the 5th Infantry Division, Third Army, on August 6, 1944, under the direct command of General George S. Patton, Jr. On August 10, 1944, the tank battalion was on their way Northeasterly on a narrow road to its objective or rendezvous point just Southeast of the city of Mortain in France. Lt. Colonel Hamilton found himself running from his tank trying to get cover after a sudden artillery barrage from the German 88mm Anti-Tank Guns hiden close by. As the man in front of him was blown to bits from a 88mm shell explosion, the forceful concussion of the blast blew Lt. Colonel Hamilton fifteen feet into a post standing upright on the side of the road. He hit the post with his lower left flank of his torso and temporarily was rendered unconscious. Upon regaining consciousness, he became aware of marked pain in his lower abdomen and numbness in his left leg. Lt. Colonel Hamilton managed to dislodge himself from the post and crawled into the blast hole that remained after the attack. He lingered inside the crater for at least twenty-four hours before being picked up and taken to Le Mans, France, from where he was evacuated roughly seventy-two hours later. All the while, continuously going in and out of consciuosness.
...Needless to say, he suffered for the remainder of his life with extreme difficulties and a lot of pain, but kept a very round attitude about him until his death in 1963. His military awards are as follows:
The Bronze Star
The Purple Heart
The Army Presidential Unit Citation
The American Defense Medal w/ 1 bronze star
The American Campaign Medal
The Europe-Africa-Middle Eastern Theater Medal w/ 2 bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal
The Army of Occupation Medal w/ the German clasp
The Army Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/ bronze 'M' for mobilization & a bronze hourglass
The Croix de Guerre w/ 1 silver star.
Harriette Sophia Crawford Hamilton
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