Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Twins share memories as WWII vets aboard submarine

Bill Hamilton is a part of the greatest generation and a Texan through and through.

"We spent a number of our years growing up on a ranch in the panhandle of Texas," he said of his childhood.

At 17, he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.

"Thirty-two of us from the senior high school volunteered for the Navy at the same time and all went together in Boot Camp," he said.

But what makes Bill unique isn't that he's among the dwindling numbers of World War II heroes, it's who he served alongside.

"We wanted to be in the Navy. I don't know if it was the movies or whatever it was," explained Bill's twin brother, Bob Hamilton. "I always wanted to be in the Navy and I didn't want to carry a rifle around in the dirt."

Bob is younger by an hour and 27 minutes, and even though it was against the rules, they served side by side in a submarine.

"We just never did tell anybody we were twins," said Bob. "And nobody ever asked so it didn't make any difference."

"We knew if we got off that boat they would separate us," added Bill as the two sat together in Bob's Tomball home. "Brothers concert on a submarine, much less twin brothers."

The two are living history, riffing off each other as they talk about their life experiences.

"I want to be with my brother. He certainly needed me because I took care of him," Bob laughed.

Bill immediately chimed in, "Oh my!"

It is rare these days to find a veteran from that era and rarer still to meet his spitting image.

"It was a lot of experiences. A lot of it was frightening as the devil," said Bob. "I kid you not, but some of it was exciting, some of it was funny. We were part of the greatest generation because we had to be."

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