b. 03/08/1898 Tuxedo Park, New York. d. 04/03/1982 Los Angeles, California.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/11/1942 near Fort Lyautey, French Morocco.
He was a great-great-grandson of the 1st US Secretary of the Treasury and founding father Alexander Hamilton on his father’s side and a grandson of famous financier and banker John Pierpoint Morgan on his mother’s side. In August 1917, while in his 2nd year at Harvard University at Cambridge, Massachusetts, he dropped out to enlist in the US Army as an aviation cadet, and was assigned to ground training at the School of Military Aeronautics at Cornell University at Ithaca, New York. Upon his graduation in October of that year, he was transferred to the Aeronautical General Supply Depot and Concentration Barracks at Hazelhurst Field, Garden City, New York, and assigned to the foreign service detachment to complete his flight training overseas. Illness prevented him from sailing with his detachment, and he was reassigned to flight training at Ellington Field, Texas in February 1918.
In May 1918 he received his Reserve Military Aviator rating and was commissioned as a 1st Lieutenant in the Signal Officer’s Reserve Corps and served as an instructor in aerial navigation, meteorology, astronomy and officer-in-charge of bombing instruction at Ellington Field. He was promoted to the rank of captain in September 1918 and honorably discharged from military service the following December, after the end of World War I. From 1919 until the early 1940s he engaged in international banking, lived in France for several years, and became fluent in French. He also operated a commercial development business of patents and processes in sound and color photography. After the US entered World War II, he applied for reappointment to the Army and was commissioned a major in the Air Corps in March 1942.
His first assignment was staff duty with the A-2 (Intelligence) Division, Army Air Forces Headquarters in Washington DC, as a liaison officer to the British Royal Air Force. In June 1942 he went to London, England where, as an intelligence and operations officer in the Office of Combined Operations (under Lord Louis Mountbatten), he assisted in planning assaults on continental Europe, including the Dieppe Raid, and North Africa. In September 1942 he returned to Washington to discuss the plan for the North African assault (Operation Torch) with the commanding general of the Western Task Force, Major General George S. Patton. A month later he was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff of Major General Lucian K. Truscott’s Force Goalpost, conducting the assault on western French Morocco in North Africa.
On November 8, 1942, when French forces resisted Allied landing operations, he undertook a mission for Major General Truscott to deliver a message to the local French commander near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, to broker a cease fire. He was joined in the mission by Colonel Demas T. Craw, who volunteered to accompany Hamilton to lend the prestige of his rank to the negotiations. Craw carried unfurled American and French flags, and Hamilton a white flag, in an attempt to safeguard their passage. On the way to the French headquarters, they were attacked by a hidden machine gun position and Craw was killed. Hamilton and their driver were captured and he was not allowed to contact his headquarters and detained without cause. Two days later, the French garrison was captured by American forces and a cease fire was arranged.
The following month, he became Intelligence and Air Officer for the North African Theater Advanced Headquarters at Algiers and was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The following month he was appointed Operations and Intelligence Staff Officer for the Northwest African Tactical Air Force. He returned to the United States in March 1943, was promoted to colonel on October 26, and after various assignments at AAF Headquarters in Washington DC and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was relieved from active duty in March 1946. In February 1947 he returned to active duty with the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department General Staff in Washington DC. After the AAF became the US Air Force, he remained in Washington DC and was assigned to Headquarters USAF in the Office of Director of Plans and Operations. In August 1948 he became chief of the Air Force Policy Division and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general the following December. In 1951 he served with the US Air Forces in Europe, in both Wiesbaden, Germany and Paris, France, then returned to Washington DC for duty with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force.
In March 1952 he was discharged from active duty and remained in the US Air Force Reserve, resuming duties with the Policy Division in Washington DC. He was promoted to the rank of major general in June 1955 and completed the Reserve and National Guard General Officer Orientation Course at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama in 1957. He retired in 1959 with 19 years of military service in the US Army Air Service, the US Army Air Force, the US Air Force, and the US Air Force Reserves. Other than the Medal of Honor, his military and foreign awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit with 1 oak leaf cluster, the Army Commendation Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters, the World War I Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with campaign star and arrowhead device, the World War II Victory Medal, the Army of Occupation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Air Force Longevity Service Award with 3 oak leaf clusters, the Order of the British Empire, and the Portuguese Order of Merito Cristo. After his military retirement, he held a number of civilian business positions, including an association with Electronic Products Corporation of Santa Barbara, California and as an executive with the Santa Barbara Bank & Trust until 1979. He died at the age of 83.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty. On 8 November 1942, near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, Lt. Col. Hamilton volunteered to accompany Col. Demas Craw on a dangerous mission to the French commander, designed to bring about a cessation of hostilities. Driven away from the mouth of the Sebou River by heavy shelling from all sides, the landing boat was finally beached at Mehdia Plage despite continuous machine-gun fire from three low-flying hostile planes. Driven in a light truck toward French headquarters, this courageous mission encountered intermittent firing, and as it neared Port Lyautey a heavy burst of machine-gun fire was delivered upon the truck from point-blank range, killing Col. Craw instantly. Although captured immediately after this incident, Lt. Col. Hamilton completed the mission.
BURIAL LOCATION: SANTA BARBARA CEMETERY, SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA.
MAUSOLEUM NORTH WALL.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.