Arthur Charles Hamilton

- Arthur Charles Hamilton

NEW SCOTLAND — Arthur Charles Hamilton, a decorated World War II veteran who served on Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 980 during D-Day, continued to serve his country and community after he left the Navy. He was a lifetime member of the New Salem Volunteer Fire Department and, in his later years, he became a member of the Patriot Guard Riders.

His friends called him “Sir Art” after he was presented in 2014 with the French Legion of Honor Award in recognition of his role in Operation Overlord, helping to free the people of France.

Mr. Hamilton died peacefully at home on Friday, May 24, 2019. He was 93.

He was born on July 21, 1925, to Charles and Dessie Hawkins Hamilton in Great Bend, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Binghamton, New York. He entered the United States Navy on Oct. 6, 1943, and attended Naval Training School for diesel engines, earning the rating of Motor Machinist Mate 3rd class.

“Art was assigned to Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 980, arriving May 1944 in Europe. In addition to operating and maintaining the ship’s engines, art also operated a 20 mm gun near the wheelhouse,” his family wrote in a tribute. “On D-Day, June 6, 1944, LST 980 was bracketed by bombs from enemy aircraft but managed to escape catastrophic damage, although an unexploded bomb passed through the outer bulkhead and came to rest on an ammunition truck below deck.

“LST 980 continued to its anchoring point, waiting her turn to beach, making its first landing at Juno Beach, followed by additional landings at Juno, Omaha, Gold, and Utah beaches. Throughout the Normandy Invasion, and for several months thereafter, LST 980 shuttled U.S., English, and Canadian troops, ammunition, equipment, vehicles, and prisoners of war between points along the coast of France and various ports in England.

“In January 1945, LST 980 joined a convoy back to Norfolk, Virginia.  For the remainder of the war, and until Art departed the ship in March 1946, LST 980 was assigned primarily to training duties along the east coast of the U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Guantanamo Bay. Art was honorably discharged from the Navy on March 26, 1946, having earned the European Theatre Medal with one battle star, the American Theatre Medal, the Victory Medal and the Amphibious Forces Insignia.

“After he left the Navy, Art returned to Binghamton and married Betty Weyant, to whom he was married for 72 years.  

“But his service to his country and community did not end with the war.  Art served as a member of the Binghamton Auxiliary Police Force. When he and Betty moved their family to the Albany area in 1959, he became a member of the New Salem Volunteer Fire Department. He was a lifetime member, having served for 47 years, first as a fireman and driver, attaining the positions of Lieutenant, Assistant Fire Chief, and then as Captain of the Fire Police.

“Art also volunteered at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, driving the parking-lot shuttle to transport veterans to and from their vehicles; and attending Saturday movie night to talk and watch movies with patients.

“Art became friends with members of the Patriot Guard Riders of New York, who became part of his extended family, and in 2014, Art became a PGR member. For five years, he stood the flag line at funerals for his World War II brothers and sisters and other veterans; at Honor Flight send-off ceremonies (after having gone on a Leatherstocking Honor Flight himself in 2013); and other missions.

“He was known for being persistent and refusing to give in, even when in his nineties he stood for far too long holding his flag in the wind, the heat, or the cold in honor of his fellow veterans. He even rode on the back of a motorcycle from time to time to attend missions, having owned three motorcycles many years ago. One of his favorite sounds was that of motorcycles coming up the driveway when his friends dropped by.

“In May 2014, Art was presented with the French Legion of Honor Award in recognition of his role in Operation Overlord, helping to free the people of France. Those selected for the award are appointed to the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honor, which earned him the title of ‘Sir Art’ among his friends.”

Mr. Hamilton worked at the Endicott-Johnson shoe factory in Binghamton after the war, and then took a job at Parsons Ford body shop, eventually becoming the body-shop manager. He was recruited by Allstate Insurance Company to become a claims adjuster, the job that moved him and his family to Albany, and from which he retired in 1986.

“He loved to tinker in his barn at home,” his family wrote, “making go-carts for his kids, and fixing just about anything mechanical. He played guitar in a small country and western band and taught his children the love of music, and participated in a bowling league for many years.

“Art enjoyed flying, obtaining his private pilot’s license, flying small aircraft out of a local private airport, and helping at the airport when needed. He loved fishing and boating and spent many hours on the Chenango River near Binghamton with his family — especially his brother, to whom he was especially close.

“He and Betty also spent many years attending LST 980 reunions, traveling in their motorhome, visiting family throughout the United States, and seeing the sights of the great country he defended so many years ago. He took great pride in the military history of his immediate and extended family, and gave “Stars for our Troops” to veterans and their family members everywhere he went during the last years of his life.

“Art dearly loved his family, and especially liked camping and watching the stars and satellites at the evening campfire with the entire family.”

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Arthur Charles Hamilton is survived by his cherished wife of 72 years, Betty Weyant Hamilton; and by their eight children: Bill Hamilton and his wife, Mary, Jeanne Eberhard and her husband, John, Sue Mead and her husband, Jim, Jim Hamilton and Peggy Smith, Karen Hamilton, Rose Gocheski and her husband, Phill, Nancy Smith, and Ed Hamilton.

He is also survived by 15 grandchildren: Cathy Beaver and her husband, Ron; Anna Eberhard, Laura Eberhard and Brian Snow, Michael Eberhard and Sarah McMahon, Kelly Timpane and her husband, Justin, Michael Mead, Ellen Eden and her husband, Rob, Sara Eschenroeder and her husband, Ryan, Juli Burgess and her husband, Tom, Michelle Villeneuve, Jayson Villeneuve and his wife, Kaylee, Rebecca Oravec, Tori Villeneuve, Jacob Gocheski and Keith Wurzburg; by his great-grandchildren; by his sister Cora Krupp and her husband, Steve; by his brother-in-law Court Birchard; by his grandson's wife, Elaine LeGere; and many beloved in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends.

Two sons-in-law, Kyle Cooper and Ralph Smith, died before him, as did daughter-in-law Maryellen Tucker Hamilton, grandson Bill LeGere; sister Mary Hamilton Birchard, and brother and sister-in-law, Floyd and Jean Van Marter Hamilton.

Calling hours will be held on Friday, June 7, from 5 to 7 p.m. and again on Saturday, June 8, from noon to 1 p.m. at Fredendall Funeral Home at 199 Main Street in Altamont with a funeral service to follow at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Interment will be at New Scotland Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to an organization of your choice that helps veterans in need.

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