Hamilton was part of Big Red One

Published 9:34 am Thursday, March 22, 2018

VALLEY — American Legion Post 67 member Lee Hamilton is a veteran of the Vietnam War. He was in the U.S. Army from 1964-66 and in Vietnam in 1965. He served with a 155 mm artillery battery north of Saigon.

Hamilton was with the 1st Infantry Division, commonly known as the Big Red One.

The 1st Infantry Division is the oldest continuously serving division in the U.S. Army. It has seen continuous service since it was organized in World War I. It is currently based at Fort Riley, Kansas.

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Not long after it was organized more than a hundred years ago now, the 1st saw action along the border with Mexico before going to France. George S. Patton, who served as the headquarters commandant for the American Expeditionary Forces, oversaw much of the arrangements for the movements to France. The Big Red one served with distinction in France, Five of its soldiers were awarded Medals of Honor,

In World War II, the 1st was in North Africa, Sicily and France before entering Germany via the Remagen Bridge. The Big Red One saw heavy fighting on D Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

During the Korean War, the 1st was involved in the occupation of Germany.

The 1st arrived in Vietnam in July 1965 and began combat operations within two weeks. By the end of that year it had seen action in three major operations: Hump, Bushmaster I and Bushmaster II, under the command of MG Jonathan O. Seaman. In the 1968 Tet Offensive, the 1st secured the massive Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Eleven members of the division won Medals of Honor in Vietnam. The 1st returned to Fort Riley in 1970.

In more recent times, the 1st was involved in the First Gulf War, the Balkans War, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There’s nothing pretty about being in a war zone. To survive, it’s either kill or be killed. “We were trained killers,” Hamilton said.

The years back home in the U.S. have been much better.

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