Paul Hamilton (1942)
Message Board

Apr. 25, 2021

I interviewed Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams in Atlanta years ago, a fluke accident where a Vietnam era vet had to cancel and Woody was the quick replacement. When I arrived at the event at Dobbins Air Force base with a guest we could not see two seats together so had to split up, and fate led me to an empty seat beside Woody, and where I added 70 minutes of wonderful footage to my archive the following Sunday. Woody started a foundation with his two grandsons to begin building Gold Star Family monuments across the country, and it is going gangbusters, even during the Covid scourge.

In a few years they have 74 completed and another 74 in progress. My mother's (now gone) first husband on the Hamilton was from NW Michigan. We have one monument dedicated in NE Michigan and another in the east scheduled for June. All of these projects are organic. Someone takes the reigns and starts building local support. Woody's team supplies all the templates and support material to eliminate duplication of effort. I saw the opportunity to focus dedication to some of these on disaster events where large numbers lost their lives, as the pool of family relations would be much larger.

I have two possible locations here, Grand Rapids of course as it has some large park areas, and then Grand Haven, the tourist resort on Lake Michigan, with the Miller family not far away. It is a wealthy area and hosts the Coast Guard festival every summer. Chicago people come there in droves in the summer, not liking their side of the lake for some reason. I am trying to pull my Military Order of World Wars group into the project, and my Association for Former Intelligence Officers. Atlanta does not have a monument there yet, and the AFIO people, they hopefully will understand that this effort can honor their invisible people. For all those involved in covert operations it is a felony to ever admit such as their operations can then be exposed and risk the health of anyone living that assisted.

For these smaller, lesser known vet orgs, their participation would raise their visibility in their communities. The manpower for getting these done is coming from all the vet orgs pooling together, and the business communities. There is a general design for the monuments, which is scalable, ranging from smaller ones to the recent effort of a mother who lost her son 6 months ago leading an effort to build an entire memorial park. Woody really hit a home run with this concept, that there was every kind of award imaginable for KIAs and MIAs, but nothing for the extended families as a whole. Woody is 97 now, still going strong, as he tells me he has never missed a day without started out the standard Marine PT exercises. He is the last Iwo Jima Medal of Honor recipient still alive.

He landed on day three, the supply officer for a demolitions team where when they are all killed he was drafted to breach the defensive line for the mid-island airport. He took out 6 bunkers, with his flame thrower and satchel pole charges, two used per bunker. The amazing part of the story is that the Marines were so beaten down with losses that no one in a fox hole would move. Each bunker took a full flame thrower tank and explosives, so after each one he had to crawl back to the beach to reload, and then crawl back again to attack the next one, an absolutely amazing feat to have survived.

I have the link to Woody's org in my top introduction on this year's article. We have an opportunity here to do what no one has ever done before on this scale. I pray you all have gotten through the Covid scourge without any tragedy. We have lost a few at Veterans Today, as we have a lot of older people, and sadly some have lost children. The below photos show I came close to having blond hair from Leon Miller. He was 26 and mother was 16, which would be a scandal today. I am in Grand Rapids now, having moved to be closer to my senior editor partner who lives in Grand Haven as we had worked long distance from each other for a long time, a decade, where we were only together when on overseas trips. We met also by a fluke, someone introducing us online. I later met my future wife in the comment board on VT, first marriage at 65 for me.

Jim W. Dean, VT

Leon Miller

Leon Miller

Jan. 24, 2020

My uncle, Boyce Raymond Lee, was aboard the Paul Hamilton. He was 18 and just finished his training as a photographer. He was on his way to Italy when his ship was hit in the Mediterranean. He was my dad's youngest brother and he was excited when he found out my mom was pregnant. My dad was a cripple and Boyce was excited about me being born so when he got home he could take me fishing and play ball with me. He died 4 days before I was born. Such a tragedy. As I understand it, he was one of 500 men lost. It seems to me that the government shares responsibility for shipping tons of fuel and explosives on board a troop ship.

Gene Lee
West Columbia, SC

Apr. 3, 2016

I am getting a head start and it looks like I won't be going to the Syrian elections unless it is a last minute thing. Because the story have been pretty much the same every year with an updated intro, and responses were only one last year, I want to some of you into the what will be an evolving story.
We have two living witnesses of the convoy on this email list, Chuck Wales, torpedo officer on the Lansdale, which was sunk by a torpedo that night, and he went into the water with the rest of those who could get out. We also have Witt Bates, radioman on the Mosely right in front of the Paul Hamilton who heard all the radio traffic.

If any of you family people have anything new that you have learned about your ancestor please send it along. There are only 8 on this list from the last five years, and my VT story is very easy for families to find if the Google SS Paul Hamilton, to that means families are not looking because they don't know the name of the ship. 

We have honorary members, Bob and Helen Jones. He was on the USS Lanning. They have actually make several trips to the archives and copied everything available and Helen pass the along to me on a CD one wonderful day. The Hamilton exploding photo I have been using was from the 8x10 that she had sent.
She died two years ago and her kids sent me all of their ship and reunion archives.

The next challenge, how to reach more family members any way we can. I am also planning to book a two hour radio show slot this year. More on that as the format develops. I urge you all to contact local media, radio, local tv and print as this is a great human interest story. It turned out that Chuck Wales had been living 15 minutes away from my mother all of these years so I arranged for him to meet her on my birthday with a local reporter and they did a nice story.

I am not disheartened by the small number of you. I had no expectations when I started this. My learning was a fluke because my mother had a good VA man, a retired gov investigator who dug the story our for her. Every email I got from each of you was a blessing, so we will continue to do what we can to honor these unfortunate men and having so many of the families left in the dark as to what really happened to them. We are starting a new Association for Intelligence Officers chapter for Atlanta with our 4th meeting coming up this month. That might open some more doors for us.

Thanks to you all,
Jim W. Dean
Veterans Today

June 11, 2012

I have just discovered that my Dad was on this ship. He was killed on July 20, 1944 just off the coast of North Africa.  I know little information other than this because my Mother, who died when I was 22, would never talk about it.  I am very interested in learning more and knowing for sure that he was on this ship, Paul Hamilton. Is there a list of the people who were aboard the vessel.  Any information would be appreciated.  I have grown up knowing nothing.  I was 16 months old when he was killed and cannot remember him. I am thinking you in advance.

Rose Mary Mason
Daughter of Lt. Walter P. Mason
Shreveport, Louisiana

Reply 1
July 15, 2012

There was a 2nd Lieutenant Walter P. Mason, USAAF #0671673 lost in Paul Hamilton. I do not at this time have a complete list of casualties.

Michael W. Pocock

Dec. 5, 2011

My mother's first husband died on the Hamilton. I found some relative inquires on some of the destroyer blogs, but with no direct contact information to follow up. I have found the torpedo officer on the USS Lansdale...and he lived ten miles from my mother for 55 years and the never met or knew each other. I want to post contact info for any Hamilton KIA families passing through your site.

Jim Dean
Editor, Veterans Today

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Page published Aug. 16, 2008