Lost: 1945 Found: 1982 Returned: 19 Nov 2015 Location: Lake Charles, LA
On 19 November 2015 at 2:30pm, the lost military medals of TSGT Clayton E. Hamilton were returned to his family. The ceremony took place at American Legion Post 1, 1530 9th Street, Lake Charles, LA 70601.
Technical Sergeant Clayton E. Hamilton (SN: 18165637) was born 1920 in Alabama to William A. and Cordelia Ruth Hamilton. He attended High School in North Little Rock, Arkansas and would later enlist into the U.S. Army Air Corps on 10 September 1942. He served as the Top Turret Gunner on a B-17G Flying Fortress (Aircraft #44-8437) with the 563rd Bomber Squadron, 388th Bomber Group. On 17 February 1945 on a mission over Nuremberg, his aircraft was hit by enemy fire and crashed at Prum, Germany. He did not survive, and is buried in the Lorraine American Cemetery, Plot F, Row 3, Grave 26.
For his service, he was awarded the Air Medal with 4 OLC, the Purple Heart (Posthumously), the Good Conduct Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, and Aircraft Crew Wings.
The following servicemen also went down with TSGT Hamilton’s aircraft: Capt. Robert Gladstone, 1st Lt. Paul Gocht Ballard, 1st Lt. John Kennedy Gardner, 1LT Robert Edward Murphy, TSGT Charles Bernard Goldstein, SSGT John Edward Grady, SSGT Joseph Eugene Prokop, and SGT Kenneth Lewellyn Hausladen.
The lost Purple Heart was discovered by Mr. Robert Boemker. He found the Purple Heart after purchasing a hope chest at an auction in 1982 in San Diego, CA. Among the contents of the chest was an old iron and some blankets. He has had this medal ever since. As a retired Marine (Served from 1973-1993), he is now a member of DAV. Another DAV member was talking about PHR and urged him to send the medal, which he did.
TSGT Hamilton’s nieces, Mrs. Mary Fontenot and Mrs. Billie Walker, received the medals. Purple Hearts Reunited’s Valor Guard Director, LtCol (R) Mitchell “Taco” Bell, presented the medal.
See the story on NBC7 KPLC >> Purple Heart Reunited With Veteran’s Family 70 Years After His Death
This medal return was sponsored in part by a grant from the Purple Heart Foundation.