We Lost A Hero Last Night, Sgt. Don Hill, USMC
We lost a hero last night. You, me, the USMC, the country. We lost a hero. Don Hill was a dashing, good looking young man in his crisp Marine uniform in 1942, so much so that his photo became a recruiting poster. A soft spoken, kind man from Colorado, like many others of his generation, he did his job during WWII. As Don himself once stated “We had a job to do and we did it, and we put in a lot of overtime doing it”. Don was part of the Marine contingent aboard the USS Nashville CL43, a contingent that suffered heavy casualties during a turret explosion and later, during a devastating Kamikaze attack.
Don went ashore at Peleliu and did his job. Don later went ashore at Okinawa, and again he did his job. He rarely talked about those times except the good memories of friends he shared them with. It was not until the last few years of his life that the nightmares got bad, he held as much in as he could, like the hero he always was.
Don and his indefatigable wife Goldie ran the USS Nashville CL43 Reunion Association for many, many years. They were quite a team and something to see in action, Goldie the consummate organizer and Don, the charming, story-telling, joking Marine that referred to the Nashville sailors as “our swabbies”. Year after year, city after city, Don and Goldie presented the crew and their families with wonderful, fun-filled reunions.
The reunions ended in 2009 but people could just not give them up, so in 2010 there was a “Gathering” of crew and families in Reno, a smaller, less structured event. Don was too seriously ill to attend but in true form, he insisted that Goldie attend and see old friends, and like the loyal wife and strong woman she is, she did so. They held a tribute to Don in that gathering, a fitting farewell of sorts.
We lost a hero last night. Don, thank you for all the gifts of your life, including your sacrifices for your country.