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09/12/2009

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Ovid Holmes

When I was selected for 1st Force Recon in 1962, one of first things a new guy did was work on drop zone control. These guys monitor the wind and have comms with the aircraft. I was working the anonometer, which measures air speed. The GV-1 [now known as a C-130] came flying in, and out went the stick. This was a long time ago, but I think a special forces stick went first, all spaced out. Then came the Force Recon stick, real tight. The winds started gusting. One guy blew into the power lines, there was a big arc, his 'chute burned, down he went. That was staff sergeant Donald N. Hamblin. I was new, so he meant nothing to much to me. Fast forward. A year or so later, we are at mainside airfield, boarding a C1-1 [AKA Trade, or CF, or carrier on board delivery] for a jump. Hobbling out on the airstrip was this guy, short sleeve blue shirt, left arm in a brace away from his side, on a crutch, hopping, one leg gone below the the knee. The older guys went ballistic- "Staff sergeant Hamblin!!!". The parachute officer put him in a 'chute, he boarded, and he jump mastered the jump. Later, he passed the Force Recon PFT, and was reassigned to the company. He went on to serve in Vietnam, a couple of tours with SOG, got a purple heart, retire from the the corps. I he was never down, was always an upbeat guy. I have a couple of good stories about that guy. A real leader. I believe he was the first man to be retained as an amputee by a military service.

I am heartened by stories of other dedicated troops that have been retained by the military. I know of a Marine whose foot was blown of by a land mine in Kandahar back in '02 or so, an army paratrooper who came back, and now Corporal Jones. Drive On Marines. And Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen.

Ovid Holmes

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