An amazing leader and patriot lost

Just this week on the day after Veterans’ Day, I called to speak to an old friend of mine, Jim Hamilton, who was the First Sergeant of the Special Forces Company I commanded in VietNam. Jim and I had formed a life-long bond of friendship and respect. Our work together was never forgotten by either of us. Over the years we connected by phone and also had the opportunity to spend time together when Jim came out to WA for a few days. I was so happy to have him stay in my home and we shared what was going on in our lives.
This time, my conversation with Jim was not to be, as I was informed by Ruth, his wonderful wife of 68 years, that he had passed away after a short battle with cancer at the age of 89.
Our country has lost a truly remarkable leader whom I was honored to have known. Jim served in the US Navy as a young man and after his enlistment, he returned to Pennsylvania where he worked in the steel mills until he was stricken with polio at the age of 23. He was told by doctors that he likely would never walk again. Jim defied all of the odds and with his will and determination, won the battle and enlisted in the Army at the age of 32 and became an Airborne, Special Forces soldier, who was on his third tour of duty in VietNam when we met. He went on to serve until 1979, when he retired as a Sergeant Major. Jim’s motto for everyone was,“be a leader, not a follower.” He certainly lived that motto and set a standard that only a few can ever match. Jim, Thank you for all you have meant to me and the soldiers whose lives you influenced. You are an inspiration to me every day of my life. I love you and I will never forget you…you are the embodiment of LEAD with COURAGE.

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