The U.S. Navy is commemorating the 65-year anniversary of the sacrifice made by Alexandria resident and local middle school namesake Francis C. Hammond.
Hammond, who was born in Alexandria on Nov. 9, 1931, was training to be a pharmacist when the Korean War broke out in 1950. He enlisted in the Navy and became a medic after training at the Navy’s Hospital Corps in Great Lakes, Illinois, according to a Navy news release.
Hammond, as a hospital corpsman petty officer third class, was deployed to South Korea on Feb. 1, 1953 and was assigned to the 1st Marine Division. Hammond and his division were trying to retake the Combat Outpost Reno on March 26 of that year, which North Koreans had overrun earlier in the day. His division encountered heavy mortar and artillery fire when nearing the outpost.
Hammond, even after a relief unit arrived, refused to pull back. He stayed behind to help evacuate the wounded and refused care for himself. He was mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire.
Following his death, Hammond received the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. Tuesday marks the 65th anniversary of his receiving the Medal of Honor.
“By his exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative and self-sacrificing efforts, HC Hammond undoubtedly saved the lives of many Marines. His great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country,” the Medal of Honor citation read.
Francis C. Hammond Middle School, named in his honor, opened in 1956. Francis Hammond Parkway in Alexandria is also named in his honor. The Navy, in addition, named a friggate for him, USS Francis Hammond, which served from July 25, 1970 to July 2, 1992.
Hammond left behind a wife and a son, Francis C. Hammond Jr., who was born a few months after his father’s death.