News: Gone but not forgotten, Cav troops remember fallen Soldier
Story by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Members of Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment “Black Knights,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, traveled to San Antonio, Texas, July 31 for a time of remembrance and reflection of a fallen comrade.
More than 40 Black Knights sat in Fort Sam Houston’s main post chapel to observe the memorial service for former teammate Spc. Donnell Hamilton Jr., an armored crewman from Chicago, who died at Brooke Army Medical Center, Texas, July 24 due to leukemia.
Hamilton entered the military October 2012, reported to Company D in April 2013, and deployed to Afghanistan within three months of arriving at the unit. Hamilton redeployed to Fort Hood in January 2014 after showing symptoms of his illness and was then assigned to Company C, Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Sam Houston Jan. 24.
While assigned to the Black Knights, Hamilton made a lasting impression as an excellent tank driver, Soldier, friend who went by the nickname “Hambone,” said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Wallat, a Company D platoon sergeant.
“(Hamilton’s) driving skills are unmatched,” Wallet said. “He was a young Soldier with limitless potential, a team player and natural leader.”
Wallat said Hamilton had a charisma that could lift the spirits of Soldiers around him.
That uplifting spirit remained even through many months of treatment, said Staff Sgt. Tiffany Reese, Hamilton’s squad leader in Company C. A fellow Company C Soldier read Reese’s written eulogy during the memorial, as she was escorting Hamilton to Chicago.
Reese said Hamilton treated life as if it were a game of chess. He was always thinking of the next move.
“Throughout his stay at the WTB and during his treatment, Hamilton already worked out his next move in advance,” Reese said. “His intent and purpose was to set himself up for his next move in life … to win against his illness.”
Hamilton remained vigilant, fighting for life with courage, dignity and the honor of an American Soldier, Reese said.
“The illness may have said ‘checkmate,’ but Hamilton was a brave Soldier who played a very memorable game,” Reese said.
Hamilton is survived by his father, Donnell Hamilton Sr., stepmother, Gail Baike, two brothers, two sisters and one stepbrother.