Harry Vernon Hamilton Sr., 93, died at Vidant Service League Inpatient Hospice in Greenville, on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. He was born in Jonesboro.
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A private burial will take place at the North Carolina Veterans Cemetery in Jacksonville. A memorial service will be held at Swansboro United Methodist Church at a later date.
Harry joined the Navy as a Naval Air Cadet in 1942. He received his commission and Navy wings in December 1943 in Pensacola, Fla., then joined Air Group 9 as an F6F-5 Hellcat fighter pilot in the South Pacific, flying off the aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Yorktown (CV-10). He flew 56 combat missions during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with one gold star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three gold stars in lieu of a second, third, and fourth air medal.
In awarding the Distinguished Flying Cross to Harry, then Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal wrote the following citation: "For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as Pilot of a Carrier-based Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron NINE, in action against enemy Japanese forces in the vicinity of the Japanese Homeland and adjacent island chains, from Feb. 10 to April 27, 1945. Participating in 20 strikes during this period, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Hamilton inflicted severe damage on enemy shipping, airfields and installations. His courage and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Following World War II and service in the Naval Reserve, Harry was discharged from the Navy with the rank of Lieutenant. He settled in Swansboro and worked as a construction cost estimator in the public works department at Camp Lejeune for 25 years.
Harry was a member of the Swansboro United Methodist Church, where he held a number of offices including treasurer and trustee and served on the building committee that resulted in a new church on Corbett Avenue. He also was a member of the Swansboro Masonic Lodge, New Bern Scottish Rite, New Bern Shrine Club, and Swansboro Lions Club, for which he served as president in 1959. As president of the Swansboro Area Men's Club in 1955, Harry led a delegation to Raleigh, where they met with the N.C. Banking Commission and secured approval for a much-needed first bank-First Citizens-to be built in Swansboro. An avid golfer, Harry was a member of the Jacksonville Country Club for 50 years. He often went boating and fishing in the Swansboro area with his son even after his 90th birthday. He also was a proud and active member of the Swansboro Rotary Club from 1982 until shortly before his death.
Harry was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Helen Tolson Hamilton; his parents, Vernon and Leliah Cox Hamilton; and three brothers and four sisters.
He is survived by his son, Harry Vernon Hamilton Jr. and wife, Sharon; two granddaughters, Helen Mary and Leah Grace Hamilton; all of Greenville; his brother Sam's wife, Hazel Hamilton, of Sanford; and numerous nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Swansboro United Methodist Church located at 665 W. Corbett Ave. in Swansboro, NC 28584.
Electronic condolences may be left for the family at www.jonesfh.org.
Published in The Daily Reflector on Feb. 2, 2014