Forget Me Not Friday - William Robert Hammersmith

The information below was written by my mother, Carolyne Ruth (Kephart) Gould. She was the adoptive daughter of William Hammersmith. To me, he was Pappy--my grandfather in every possible way, other than by blood. I am proud to be his granddaughter, and I want everyone to know what kind of man he was. So I'm making his story of service the post for Forget Me Not Friday

This is for you, Pappy. ♥

William Robert Hammersmith

William Robert Hammersmith, December 20, 1930 - January 26, 1994.

William also known as "Bill" and "Pappy," served in the U.S. Army during  the Korean War, then joined the U.S. Navy.  He received Good Conduct Medals throughout his military career as well as the Navy Unit Commendation Citation 1 Jan 1968; Marksman, 17 Jul 1970; Meritorious Unit Commendation 1 March 1970; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Korean Service Medal, (three Bronze Stars); United Nations Service Medal, and a Purple Heart.  

He enlisted in the U.S. Army 18 March 1952 and his basic training was with the 5th Armored Division, Camp Chaffee, Arkansas, from 31 March 1952 to 19 July 1952. He served in the U.S. Army Field Artillary. His Purple Heart and one of the Bronze Stars was earned in Korea when, while wounded in the leg and unable to walk, he drug one of his fellow soldiers to safety by slowly crawling and dragging the other wounded soldier with him. He was discharged from the Army on 24 July 1958 and joined the U.S. Navy the very next day -- 25 July 1958. He retired from the U.S. Navy on 1 October 1981.   

William served two combat tours of duty in Vietnam on assignment with the SeaBees and attached to the United States Naval Support Activity, Saigon. He ran river patrol boats and supply boats. During his service in the U.S. Navy, he also received a citation for rescuing a fellow sailor, who had climbed to the top of the mast to do some repairs and had become overcome with a fear of falling. The man was "frozen" and unable to come down. William climbed the mast and brought him down.    

During his Navy service, he was deployed to the waters off the coast of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. At the time, he was serving on a destroyer, the USS. Stormes (DD-780), which was home-based in Norfolk, Virginia.  Other tours of duty included Guam and Kodiak, Alaska, as well as serving on the USS Valfor (CVS 45); USS Shenandoah (AD-26); the USS Valley Forge (LPH-8), a support carrier out of Norfolk, Virginia;  USS Sierra (AD-18)  the USS Sperry (AS 12), a submarine tender home ported in Bremerton, Washington; and the USS Camden (AOE-2). 

William received a "letter of Commendation" for his participation in the rescue of of sailors from the Dutch Merchantman "Doris" in Naples Italy. The commendation, written in 1964 by Captain W.F.V. Bennett, commanding officer, reads as follows:

Subj: Letter of Commendation

1. During the early morning hours of 14 October 1964, the Dutch Merchantman DORIS, anchored in the outer harbor of Naples, Italy, dragged its anchor and was forced by heavy seas and high winds upon the rocks of Molo San Vincenzo. The LCM Boat Crew, of which you were a member was called away to transport a Rescue and Assistance Detail to the scene of the sinking ship.

2. You immediately responded and commenced loading your landing craft. Though the seas were heavy and the wind was gusting from 40 to 50 knots, you completed loading your boat with rescue and assistance detail personnel and their equipment and transported them to the breakwater adjacent to the DORIS. After the initial twenty-seven personnel were removed from the sinking ship, you returned them to SHENANDOAH. During this entire rescue you remained with your boat and made shuttles from the Molo to SHENANDOAH under adverse conditions.

3. By your prompt action, untiring efforts and proper performance of duty, even under adverse and dangerous conditions, your actions resulted in the successful accomplishment of an important life saving mission. It is with the utmost pleasure that I commend you for your actions in the rescue mission of the Dutch ship DORIS.

William retired from the U.S. Navy after 26 years of service as a  Boatswain's Mate 1st Class.  After completing his years of service to his country, William continued to contribute to the defense of his country by working at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an additional 10 years.

Following his marriage to Della Maxine Kephart Geissinger, William adopted her two known children, Carolyne and Robbie, and treated them as his own. William died of pancreatic cancer. He was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam as well as some kind of chemical exposure when he served on board the USS Sperry.

NAIH, Pappy.