22 January 2009

Col. James W. Hammond

It is said that the Marine Corps is made up of a few good men. Over the years Second Battalion 4th marines lost lots of good men. And now, we have lost a very special good man,our Battalion Commander in 1967, Colonel James W. Hammond. And now some of his accomplishments as written by his son.

Wes Hammond, a 1951 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1975. In addition to a B.S. from the Naval Academy, he has a M.A. (International Law) from the Catholic University of America and M.A. (Journalism) from the University of Nevada.

During more than a quarter of a century of active duty, he served in a wide variety of command and staff billets around the globe. He was wounded in action as an infantry platoon leader in Korea (1st Bn, 5th Mar). He was twice a tactics instructor at the Marine Corps School in Quantico, VA; commanded a company in an infantry battalion afloat in the Mediterranean (B Co, 1st Bn, 6th Mar); served as the S-3 of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton during initial experimentation with vertical envelopment operations; and was aide-de-camp to MajGen D.M. Shoup (later 22nd Commandant of the Marine Corps) on Okinawa, where he met and married Miss Donna M. Selby of Brighton, Colorado. He deployed with the 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division of the Cuban Missile Crisis (as the regimental communications officers). While with the artillery, he also served as a battery commander and the battalion XO (4th Bn, 10th Mar). He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (“The Magnificent Bastards”) in Vietnam until wounded in action and evacuated. He returned to duty as Plans Officer of the 3rd Marine Division until wounded again, finishing his tour as the division liaison officer, Provisional Corps Vietnam. Upon return to the United States, he was Head, Command Department, Marine Corps Command & Staff College in Quantico. There he taught Research and Writing, Command & Staff Organization, and a future concept of amphibious operations called “Sea Base.” He was transferred to Hawaii, promoted to colonel and assigned as Protocol Officer and Aide to Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr. USN. He retired from Camp Pendleton, California and returned to Reno, Nevada.

While on active duty he was Editor & Publisher (1964-67) of the Marine Corps Gazette, the professional journal of the Marine Corps Association. Eight years after retiring from the Marine Corps, he moved to Annapolis, Md., to be editor of Shipmate, the monthly magazine of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association. After a dozen years there, he retired and returned to Reno.

He is the author of more than 50 articles in professional military journals as well as popular publications and newspapers. His Poison Gas – The Myths Versus Reality (Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn., 1999) is a plea for common sense lest we be held hostage to fear of the unknown. His The Treaty Navy – The Story of the U.S. Naval Service Between the World Wars, (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada, 2001) describes how the innovative thinking and the developments in the 1920s and 1930s spawned the victory in the Pacific in the 1940s. His first venture into fiction was A Few Marines (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada, 2005). It is collection of short “sea stories” that could have happened and maybe did. The second in this series, A Few More Marines (Wesley Press, Reno, Nevada) was published in 2008.

The Hammonds make their home in Reno but travel extensively including an annual trip to Annapolis during football season. They have three children and seven grandchildren.