Pierpoint Morgan Hamilton was born at Tuxedo, N.Y., in 1898. He attended the Groton School at Groton, Mass., for six years and was a sophomore at Harvard University upon America's entry into the first World War. Leaving the university temporarily in April 1917, he volunteered to perform special technical work in the marine division of the police department in New York City. While engaged in this activity he served on patrol and on guard duty and ran a supply boat to the various launches throughout New York Harbor.
On Aug. 7, 1917, Hamilton enlisted in the aviation section, Signal Reserve Corps, and on Aug. 20 he was sent to the School of Military Aeronautics, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., to undergo his ground school training. Upon his graduation from this school on Oct. 13, 1917, he was transferred to the Aeronautical General Supply Depot and Concentration Camp at Garden City, Long Island, N.Y., and assigned to the foreign service detachment.
Illness over a period of six weeks prevented him from sailing for overseas duty with his detachment. In the meantime, the policy of giving primary flying training to cadets overseas had been discontinued and, on Feb. 6, 1918, Hamilton was ordered to Ellington Field, Houston, Texas to undergo flying training. He passed the required tests for the rating of reserve military aviator on May 9, 1918, on which date he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the aviation section, Signal Officers Reserve Corps, and assigned to active duty.
Hamilton remained at Ellington Field, serving as instructor in aerial navigation, meteorology and astronomy. Later he was assigned to duty as officer in charge of bombing instruction. He was promoted to first lieutenant on Sept. 21, 1918. On Dec. 31, he was honorably discharged from service.
Hamilton applied for reappointment in the Army in February 1942, and on March 2 of that year was commissioned a major in the Army of the United States. He reported for active-duty on March 19 as liaison officer with the Royal Air Force, A-2 Division Air Staff, Washington, D.C. In June 1942 he went to London where, as an intelligence and operations officer, he helped plan assaults on continental Europe and North Africa. In September of that year he returned to Washington to discuss the plan for the North African assault with the commanding general of the Western Task Force.
A month later he was appointed assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the sub-task force assault on Northern French Morocco. During this assignment Hamilton, then a lieutenant colonel, earned the Medal of Honor on a mission with Colonel Demas T. Craw, when they volunteered to make contact with the French commander near Port Lyautey, French Morocco, during the first assault on Nov. 8, 1942, to bring about an end of hostilities.
They landed their boat under heavy firing and set out for French headquarters in a light truck. A heavy burst of machine-gun fire hit the truck, killing Colonel Craw. Hamilton was immediately captured, but he completed the mission and arranged with the local French commander for the cessation of hostilities.
In December 1942 Hamilton became intelligence and air officer for the North African Theater Advanced Headquarters at Constantine, Algiers. The following month he was appointed operations and intelligence staff officer for the North African Tactical Air Force.
He returned to the United States in March 1943 and after various assignments at Air Force headquarters in Washington and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was relieved from active duty in March 1946.
The following February he returned to active-duty and was assigned to the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department General Staff. He became chief of the Air Force Policy Division in August 1948.
General Hamilton also has been awarded the Legion of Merit, the Army Commendation Ribbon with three oak leaf clusters, the Order of the British Empire and the Portuguese Order of Marito Christo.
Hamilton is a nephew of the late J. Pierpoint Morgan and great-great-grandson of Alexander Hamilton.