Ronney Hamilton sits at a table with some of his Vietnam War service memorabilia on Friday Nov. 5 2021.

LOGAN – It’s hard not to miss Ron Hamilton in the Cache Valley area. He looks like a Santa Claus in plain cloths. He has sung tenor as a member of the Imperial Glee Club over the years. Behind that Ho-Ho-Ho persona is a dedicated, retired, well-decorated U.S. Navy soldier. He was one of a crew of 18 seaman that served in Vietnam on a Destroyer.

Ron Hamilton a member of the Maine Corp League and part of the Color Guard eats breakfast with the United Way Cache Valley volunteers on Thursday Sept. 9 2021.

“In December of 1965, I was assigned to a Destroyer Division, on the USS Hanson DD-832,” the 78-year-old Logan resident said. “Our operational task force included 18 destroyer vessels. Our task force was ordered to destroy weapons, ammunitions and supplies being sent to the enemy.”

The Hanson was a destroyer armed with six five-inch guns, 12 x 40 mm AA guns, 11 x 20 mm guns, 10 x 21 inch torpedo tubes. The ship and its crew with 17 other destroyers were involved a host of battles while guarding the South China Sea.

“We fought in the riverways, along the coast of Vietnam and in the entry bays from Da Nang to Saigon,” Hamilton said. “We blew up ammo dumps and assisted the Marines and special forces up and down the Vietnam coast.”

If the USS Hanson were anchored in Logan City it could accurately hit a house in Preston, ID, some 25 miles away with its 50-inch guns.

“We set records fighting with shore batteries firing the five inch 38 shells that weighed about 60 pounds each,” Hamilton said. “On our duty station we fired 9,022 rounds in 41 days of these 5-inch, 38 shells. This was a record for a destroyer in one battle.”

He served 37 months in the Vietnam Theater. And after four years of active duty, he was discharged in the summer of 1967 in San Diego, CA.

Ron Hamilton is proud of the service he rendered in Vietnam as a US Navy sailor on Friday Nov. 5, 2021.

“When I came home from Vietnam I couldn’t talk about the war much,” he said.” We got spit on, yelled at and had things thrown at us. We took off our uniforms.”

He said serving in the military changed his life. He is more patriotic; he loves his country and the flag that represents it. His service to his country did not end in 1978. He continued his service 11 years ago when he joined the Marine Corp League and is actively involved in the Cache Valley Veterans Association.

When you salute the flag every twice a day for four years you develop a real love for the flag and the country it represents,” Hamilton said. “In July, I was elected as Commander of the Marine Corp League.”

Still serving his country and community, Hamilton has shifted his focus this time of year to the Toys for Tots campaign, trying to make sure over 7,000 kids have Christmas.

“(I) dress up like Santa in the community and try to do my part to make sure kids have a good Christmas,” he said. “I think we are the most active and largest Toys for Tots organization in the State.”

Ron Hamilton displays some of the military medals he earned while serving on a destroyer during the Vietnam War on Friday Nov. 5, 2021.

Life after his service has not been easy. He lost his first wife to cancer after 29 years of marriage then married his second wife Kristine 20 years ago. Between them they have 10 grown children.

“We can’t sit back and watch what happens in our community. We have to stay involved with what is going on around us,” he said. “We need to get more political and take more responsibility for the future of our country and community”

 



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