Thursday, November 8, 2012

La Pointe du Hoc, on the Normandy invasion beaches in France, at sunset.
Chateau du Saint Pierre, on the Coast of Normandy, France. We recently spent five days here, exploring the region. I highly recommend the experience.


Monday, January 2, 2012

My father's comrades in arms are all gone now

Scott Alexander, my father's best friend during their combat tour in the Eighth Air Force in World War II, died on December 21, 2011. He was 90 years old and was the last of the crew led by Lt. Victor Radke. My father, Thomas Hammond, was the co-pilot of the crew.

In my father's own words, Scotty was "the bravest man I ever knew." Unflinching in the face of German fighter planes and murderous flac artillery, Scotty was the navigator for the crew, and brought them safely home 35 times, until they had survived all the missions that were required of them in order to return home.

In the photo above, Scotty is the tall one on the right; Tom is on the left.

My father talked about Scotty all of my life. He admired him for his bravery, and, I think, for the outrageous character that he was. Scotty was a New England doctor's son who had attended Dartmouth College. All business in battle, he also knew how to have fun when he and Tom would spend their days off in London. I suspect that Tom, a farm boy from South Carolina, was what would be considered the designated driver in today's culture. They looked out for each other. Their backgrounds complemented each other.

Both men suffered after the war from what we today call post traumatic stress syndrome. PTSD haunted both men all their lives. For Scotty, the memories of their combat experiences were so searing that he deliberately never had contact with any of his former crewmates following the war. When I finally tracked him down in 2004, he opened up and talked about his experiences, telling stories that those close to him had never heard before. I don't claim any special skill in getting people to talk, but my goal of writing a book about their experiences struck a cord. We learned a lot about Scotty between that first meeting in December 2004 and his death in December 2011. I hope it helped him come to terms with some of his demons.
Scotty Alexander looks over Lt. Victor Radke's log book during a 2005 interview.

I regret that I did not locate Scotty in time to reunite him with my father, who died three months before our December 2004 meeting. But I will forever cherish Scotty's reaction to my questions, his kind recollections of my father ("Tom was my best friend," he wrote in the front of a copy of my book for my children.) My life has been enriched by my acquaintance with Scotty Alexander.

Read Tom's and Scotty's story in full in my book: "Tom's War: Flying with the U.S. Eighth Army Air Force in Europe, 1944" written by James T. Hammond. It is available on Amazon.com, and from Barnes & Noble.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Merging the media

It's hard to keep up with all the changes and additions to the plethoria of social media today. I do it at work and I do it for fun.

Now I'm doing it on Twitter: @restlessboomer

Also, follow my work for the Columbia Regional Business Report: http://www.columbiabusinessreport.com/home

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Cooper shepherds toughest S.C. budgets, and bows out

In his own words, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper has done his time in the trenches, and is ready to return home from the legislative and budget wars of his six years as South Carolina House budget chief.

Read story at the Columbia Regional Business Report