A Korean War Veteran Remembers


Submitted to The Korean War Educator by Bob Highland, Gresham, OR

Donavon E. Hampton II, Petty Officer 1st Class
USN – Serial #730-29-77

Don was born in Ottawa, Illinois, on May 6, 1927. He attended grade school and high school in Minnesota. At the age of 16, he enlisted in the US Navy in July of 1942. He attended Navy boot camp, and was then sent to Hospital Marine Corps School in San Diego, CA. Don volunteered to serve with the Marines as a Corpsman, and was sent to Field Medical School at Camp Pendleton, CA.

During World War II, he participated in campaigns in the Marianna’s and was wounded on Iwo Jima. After spending five months in the Naval Hospital, his wounds were healed and he was assigned to the 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division in North China. On the island of Okinawa, his true age was discovered, and he was informed that he would have to be discharged, which he was.

However, at age 18 he could and did re-enlist. He was sworn once more into the United States Navy, and served as a Corpsman caring for veterans of the United States Marine Corps. He returned to the United States in 1946, and served on an LST until his discharge from the Navy in September of 1947. He then joined the Reserve 105 Artillery Unit at Portland, Oregon. Don also studied medicine at Portland State University and the College of Southern Utah.

In August of 1950, Don was recalled to active duty with his reserve unit for the Korean War. After administering his final shots to the Reserve Marines at Swan Island, he was flown to Korea. There, he joined Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade at the Pusan Perimeter, just as it was to engage the North Koreans at the battle of the Naktong River. While in Korea, he also served in the battles of Inchon, Seoul, Chosin Reservoir, and the 1951 spring and summer campaigns. He was wounded in May of 1951, and again in the summer of 1951. Don was a patient in the Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

When he was again discharged from active duty in the Navy in October of 1951, he returned to his Reserve Unit in Portland, Oregon. He also returned to college and earned his Doctorate in Medicine at the University of Utah. He set up practice in Fairbanks, Alaska, where he stayed for 24 years. Don met and married his wife Maxine in November of 1963, and they have one son, Donavon Hampton III. After retiring in 1984, Don and Maxine moved to Eagle Creek, Oregon, where he spent his time operating his Christmas tree farm.

Don’s decorations include the following: Bronze Star with V, Navy Commendation with V, three Purple Hearts, Combat Action Ribbon, four Presidential Unit Citations, Navy Unit Citation, Asiatic Pacific Medal with three stars, Korean Service Medal with six battle stars, United Nations Medal, and three Korean Presidential Unit Citations. He passed away on November 17, 1993.


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