John Andrew Hamilton Sr.

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Hamilton, John Andrew, Sr.

John Andrew Hamilton, Sr., 85, passed away on July 2, 2017 in Albuquerque after an extended illness.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, retired State Representative Dianne Hamilton; his four children, Drew, Jared, Lynn and Merritt and their spouses; and two granddaughters, Blythe and Joan Marie. He is also survived by his nephews, G.C., Andy, Scott and Ben Matson.

John was born in 1931 in in the mining town of Grand Junction, Colorado, and spent most of his childhood in Kansas City, MO, where he got his first job at age nine. He graduated from East High School in Kansas City in 1948 and was awarded one of the first Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps college scholarships. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1953 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps upon his college graduation, and served for 20 years, retiring in July of 1973 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

After completing the Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, and the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, he deployed to Japan where he served in a 75mm pack howitzer battalion. Selected for flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, he was rated as a Naval Aviator and assigned to Marine Fighter Squadron 214 (the Black Sheep Squadron under the command of WWII ace Colonel Jack Bolt) at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe. Returning to the artillery, then Capt. Hamilton completed four assignments as an artillery battery commander. As commanding officer of Mortar Battery, 11th Marines he led the battery to Guantanamo, Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

After duty as an instructor at the Nuclear Weapons Training Center in Dam Neck, Virginia, then Major Hamilton was assigned as executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marines and deployed for combat duty in the Republic of Vietnam. Assuming command of 1/11 Marines at Khe Sanh in July of 1968, he oversaw the final evacuation of the Fire Base. While at Khe Sanh, he received the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. Being confirmed in command with a battlefield promotion to lieutenant colonel, he played a major role in OPERATION MEADE RIVER a highly successful cordon and destroy operation conducted against the communist forces. For his actions in the Republic of Vietnam he was awarded the US Legion of Merit with V (valor) device. In his 13 months in Vietnam, not one Marine under his command lost his life. Upon his return to the United States, he commanded the 1st Field Artillery Group and the 4th Battalion, 11th Marines.

John and his family came to New Mexico in 1971 when the Marine Corps assigned him as Director of Operations (J3) Defense Nuclear Agency at Sandia Base. He earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico in December of 1973. He moved his family to Silver City, N.M. in 1974, when he accepted a position at Chino Mines, then owned by Kennecott Copper Corporation. He retired from Chino in 1998, after nearly 58 continuous years in the workforce.

John was an active member of St. Francis Newman Center Parish, where he was baptized in 1987.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Hamilton Military Museum in Truth or Consequences, NM.

A funeral Mass will be held at St. Francis Newman Center in Silver City this Wednesday, July 5, at 2 p.m.

Published in Albuquerque Journal from July 4 to July 5, 2017
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