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WWII Veteran Brings History to Life for OMS 5th Graders

OMS fifth graders in Amanda Clark’s class had a very special visitor April 11, World War II veteran Jack Hamlin. Hamlin is 102 years old and talked to the students about his time as a chief petty officer in the United States Coast Guard during the war. 

“Jack's enthusiasm was contagious as he recounted events during his time in France, and he has such a talent for making the students feel seen and special,” Clark said. “He even signed one student's cast!”

Students were in awe of Hamlin, and as he was signing the cast, one student even said “you’re so lucky you broke your arm.” Hamlin then proceeded to sign cards for any student who asked. He also showed students his Legion of Honor medal he was awarded by the French government.

Hamlin, a rescue swimmer, was aboard a Coast Guard Cutter sent to Omaha Beach on D-Day.

One touching story Hamlin shared was when he met a German man during a 2014 visit to Omaha Beach. The man was a machine gunner during the war. The men, through a translator, shared stories and tears. They forgave each other and became pen pals. 

“I was just in the Coast Guard, I was nothing but a little sailor boy. I had a job to do, and I did it,” Hamlin said.

While Hamlin was the highlight of the visit, he wasn’t the only veteran who spoke to the students. Honor Flight of the Ozarks Director Dave Thater, and Honor Flight Director and Flight Coordinator David Snider (who also happens to be an Ozark Schools’ bus driver) talked to the students about the military, as well as the Honor Flight, inspiring students and bringing history to life.

“Jack's visit provided these young historians a face-to-face session with living history. All three veterans presented stories and explanations that had the students on the edge of their seats,” Clark said. “The discussions and learning that will come out of this day and work their way into future lessons are priceless. We are so grateful for Mr. Snider's, Mr. Thater's, and Mr. Hamlin's time they devoted to us today.”

OMS student Haylen Mayhue said it’s not something he’ll soon forget. 

“It was really cool to hear about the history from somebody who actually was in that history, instead of reading it or listening about it from somebody who hasn’t been in that position before,” he said. “I love history and the military, so it was really cool for me to hear about it.” 

WWII Veteran Brings History to Life for OMS 5th Graders