Sky-Hi Columnist named to ROTC Wall of Fame
September 15, 2008
Sky-Hi Daily News columnist and Grand County resident William Hamilton will be named into the University of Oklahoma ROTC Wall of Fame at a banquet to be held in the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History on Oct. 31 in Norman, Okla.
In 1957, Hamilton was commissioned as a second lieutenant of infantry. He entered active duty in 1958 and served for 20 years as a Regular Army Officer, two of those years in Vietnam. Hamilton’s photograph and a brief description of his career will be placed alongside those of previous awardees.
“Learning of this deeply humbling honor brought back a flood of fond memories of being a ROTC cadet at Oklahoma during the mid-1950,” said Hamilton. “It is a great honor to be included with earlier inductees such as Heisman Trophy Winner, Steve Owens; former U.S. House Speaker, Carl Albert; former Congressman Josh Lee; and Bob Kalsu, an All-American football player who was killed in Vietnam;
“Back in the 1950s, enrollment was only about 10,000 on the Norman campus. Even so, we had about 1,800 cadets in the ROTC program. Every Tuesday afternoon, the Army, Air Force and Navy cadets would hold a combined parade. Lots of co-eds would turn out to watch. ROTC was definitely the place to be.
“Some of that was due to legendary O.U. football coach Charles B. “Bud” Wilkinson, who was a naval aviator during World War II. Coincidentally, Coach Wilkinson was the athletic officer on the USS Enterprise at the time my second cousin, Captain (later, Admiral) Tommy Hamilton (an All-American at Navy), commanded the USS Enterprise.
“Even though I only played as a blocking back in an intramural flag-football league, I knew Coach Wilkinson fairly well. One morning, late to law school, I ran into the student union to fill a glass with water, ketchup and lots of sugar. That was going to be my free and quick breakfast until I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard Coach
Wilkinson say, ‘Bill, if you need a loan, I’ll be glad to help.’ Needless to say, I felt knee high to a rattlesnake.
“Coach Wilkinson wanted his football players to be in ROTC. So, I attended a lot of ROTC classes with football greats such as All-Americans: Tommy MacDonald, Jerry Tubbs and Bobby Harrison. Just before I entered O.U., when I was Governor of Oklahoma Boys’ State, the late, great All-American quarterback, Eddie Crowder, was my dorm counselor. I would run out and Eddie would throw the football. What a thrill that was.
“In another coincidence, when Eddie was a lieutenant on active duty, he was assistant coach at West Point where he helped Pete Dawkins (who would later become my best Army buddy) win the Heisman Trophy. Football and military service were closely knit back in those days, and, hopefully, remain so today. Eddie, by the way, loved to ski at Winter Park. Many years later, we ran into each other at Snoasis.”
Hamilton holds degrees, not only from Oklahoma, but also from The George Washington University, the Naval War College, and the University of Nebraska. His post-doctoral study was done at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In addition to his numerous military awards for valor, the citation under Hamilton’s ROTC Wall of Fame photograph mentions that he is a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College, is a featured commentator for USA Today, is a novelist, was an Army War College research fellow, won the Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation Award for his writings on military affairs, was a newspaper editor, a university professor, and co-holds a world aviation speed record.
“It is exciting to learn that Lt. Colonel Keenan D. Horn, who heads the ROTC Department at O.U., has arranged for the induction banquet to be in the Sam Noble Museum,” said Hamilton. “Penny and I were in that beautiful facility in April of 2003. In 2003, my social fraternity, Delta Upsilon, had been on the O.U. campus for 75 years.
The O.U. chapter celebrated the event in the Sam Noble Museum during which another alumnus and I were named the chapter’s outstanding alumni. But I think that probably was because I had been a B.M.O.C. twice at O.U. and had served as president of the Inter-fraternity Council.
“Looking back, the four years spent as a ROTC cadet at O.U. were not only essential to a successful military career, but also very helpful in civilian life. Leadership can be taught, and they do it very well at Oklahoma.
“While I enjoyed the time I was detailed away from the Army to the Air Force, to the Navy, and also to some covert intelligence duties, I think commanding an airborne battalion and an armored cavalry squadron and even playing a role in writing some of the doctrine for the All-Volunteer Army were ever better leadership assignments. Best of all, however, were commanding Delta Company, 2d Battalion, 5th Cavalry in Vietnam, and later, being the operations officer for the 2d of the 5th Cavalry in Cambodia,” Hamilton said.