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Robert C. Hammond Jr.

Col. Robert C. Hammond Jr., 101,United States Marine Corps (retired), a resident of Meridian, died July 15, 2020, at his daughter’s home surrounded by his children. Col. Hammond was preceded in death by his wife of 59-1/2 years, Mary Agnes Null, from Mobile, Ala.; his parents, Conrad and Nettie Hammond; and his brothers, W. E. (Jeep) Hammond, of Utica; and Charles W. Hammond. He is survived by three children and their spouses, Dan and Gail Hammond, of Brandon; Jane and Jack Massey, of Meridian; and Kate and Bill Olexa, of Mandeville, La.; five grandchildren, Kevin Hammond, Jennifer Massey Stubblefield, Paul Massey, Andrea Olexa, and Diane Olexa; and two great-grandchildren, Luke and Mary Graves Stubblefield.
He was born June 7, 1919, in Utica, and lived and attended school there. He graduated in 1937 as president of the senior class. He attended and graduated from Mississippi State University in 1941 as vice president of the senior class with a BS degree, special honors, and a commission as Second Lieutenant in the Army Reserve.
With World War II fast approaching, he was called to active duty with the Army but instead accepted a regular commission as second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. He participated in five major combat operations in the Pacific during World War II: the Battle of Midway; The Guadalcanal Landing; and the at-sea Battle of Savo Island in which his ship, The Astoria, was sunk. He also participated in the Marshall Islands Campaign and the Okinawa Land and Campaign. He received his wings as a Marine Corps aviator in 1943 and as a Corsair fighter pilot during his second tour of duty in the Pacific. He downed three Japanese aircraft in aerial combat and flew many close air support missions while flying approximately 75 combat missions in the Marshal Islands and Okinawa. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, seven Air Medals, the Purple Heart, and various area ribbons. He also served in Korea and during the early phase of the Vietnam War.
He received a Master of Arts degree from George Washington University in 1962 by attending night school in Washington D.C. He commanded eight Marine Corps squadrons during his career in the Marine Corps, taught at the Naval Academy in Annapolis for three years, instructed at the Marine Corps University for three years, served in Headquarters U. S. Marine Corps in Washington D.C. for three years, and served on various staffs and other duties at 21 duty stations over his service in the Marine Corps.
He retired from the Marine Corps with 24 years of service and the rank of colonel in 1964 and entered the business world in Crystal Springs as a Ford dealer and, later, as an automobile dealer consultant.
He served on the Crystal Springs Board of Aldermen; was a member of the C.S. Chamber of Commerce for several years, presiding as president for three terms; member of C.S. Lions Club from 1964 until now; chairman of the Copiah County and Crystal Springs Republican Executive Committee for 12 years; member of the Marine Corps Aviation Association; member of the Naval Aviation Foundation and the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Fla., and he was one of the original founders of the organization in 1963.
He was a member of St. John Catholic Church in Crystal Springs and St. Patrick Catholic Church in Meridian, as well as the Knights of Columbus. He loved living at Riggs Manor (Raymond) and Aldersgate Retirement Home (Meridian) for the past 11 years.
He was an avid outdoorsman enjoying rabbit hunting, fishing, raising Beagle dogs, sailing, golfing, and gardening. He loved a good martini and a glass of brandy every day.
Funeral service was held July 18 at Stringer Family Funeral Services in Crystal Springs. A private graveside with burial was held at Utica Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to St. John Catholic Church, P.O. Box 167, Crystal Springs, MS 39059; the Marine Corps Aviation Association, P.O. 296, Quantico, VA 22134; or any other worthy organization of choice.