Hamilton to be inducted into HOF

Published 12:04 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

An Opp native who was a World War II pilot, prisoner of war and medalist will be inducted into the Opp Hall of Fame in May.

Samuel Marlin Hamilton, who was born in the Wiggins community and moved to Opp in 1936, will be honored with the distinction.

He graduated from Opp High Sch-ool in 1940 and enrolled at the University of Alabama that fall.

He joined the military after the Japanese military attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

He signed up as an aviation cadet in February 1942.

He trained at Maxwell Field in Greenwood, Miss., and other locations before getting his aviation wings and receiving a commission as second lieutenant.

He trained as a B-24 Liberator bombers and was assigned to the 763d Squadron of the 460th Bombardment Group in Italy.

The mission of the 460th was to destroy bridges, oil refineries, factories, airdomes and other strategic enemy targets in Germany, France, Austria and Hungary.

Hamilton flew seven successful combat mission and was promoted to first lieutenant.

He was lead plane on Nov. 16, 1944, when his formation was attacked by German fighter planes four hours into a bombing over Munich.

The crew was forced to bail out of the plane over Austria, and German ground forces captured the men.

They were eventually taken to Stalag I, a prisoner of war camp in Barth, Germany.

Russians liberated the camp in May 1945.

Germany had abandoned the camp days earlier.

Hamilton was freed and was returned to bases in France and returned home.

Hamilton received a promotion to captain and was honored with the Purple Heart, Air Medal, Italian Campaign Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross.

He earned a degree in geology from the University of Alabama in 1948.

Hamilton was very fond of working to beautify Opp, and he spent several years planting dogwood trees and other plants, even walking along the streets watering them during dry spells. A monument has been erected in downtown Opp honoring him for his efforts. Hamilton died March 3, 1987, and is buried in Hickory Grove Church Cemetery, along U.S. Highway west of Opp.