Flag Flies for George Hitchcock

Flag Flies for George Hitchcock photo
In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to U.S. Army veteran George Hitchcock by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of January. 

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Hitchcock for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Hitchcock was recognized on Jan. 25 with a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School. During the tribute, middle school students read his biography and middle school student Marilyn Ramos recited her patriotic essay, “Why I Honor the American Flag.” The event culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole. 

Born in Brooklyn on June 25, 1946, Hitchcock moved with his family to Rockville Centre six years later and graduated from South Side High School in 1964. He went on to study business administration at Stevens Business College in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, but decided business was not for him and looked into joining the military. Unfortunately, the Coast Guard and Air Force had long waiting lists for enlistment, and he was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1967.
 
In March 1967, Hitchcock arrived at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for his basic training. He graduated in May and boarded a bus to Fort Knox, Kentucky, for advanced individual training in the MOS 11D20 for armor. There, the 20-year-old received his orders to ship out to Vietnam.
 
When he arrived in Vietnam in August 1967, Hitchcock was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry as a reconnaissance scout on an armored personnel carrier. The 11th Cavalry was constantly on the move in Vietnam. In January 1968, while the 11th Cavalry was on operations near the Cambodian border, the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops launched the Tet Offensive, attacking every major city and province in South Vietnam. As part of the United States’ response, the 11th Cavalry was ordered to support operations in Bien Hoa near the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. 
 
On Feb. 3, 1968, Hitchcock’s armored personnel carrier took a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade and he was wounded. He suffered shrapnel wounds to his neck, arm, hip and legs and was medevaced to the 93rd Hospital in Bien Hoa for life-saving surgery. While recovering, the hospital was attacked by mortar fire and Hitchcock once again found himself in peril, as he could not be moved to a bunker because of all the tubes and wires attached to his body. He was flown to Japan for another month of hospitalization.
 In March 1968, Hitchcock was reassigned to the United States for re-evaluation at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and then sent home on convalescent leave. After recovering, he was assigned to the 6th Armored Cavalry at Fort Meade, Virginia. During this time, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the 6th Cavalry was tasked with protecting the nation’s capital from rioting. Hitchcock felt he had left a war in Vietnam only to find himself in what felt like another war in the United States. Fortunately for him, his commanding officer, after reading his medical history, transferred him to the First Army Data Processing Center in Fort Meade, where he remained until his honorable discharge in March 1969.
 
Hitchcock was awarded the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the 60 Day Vietnam Ribbon, the National Defense Medal and the New York State Conspicuous Service Citation for his meritorious service.
 
After his discharge, Hitchcock served as an officer with the Suffolk County Park Police, working in plain clothes and as a detective investigator. He also attended night school at Suffolk County Community College and earned a degree in criminal justice. He continued his education at the New York Institute of Technology until he had to stop to care for his father, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
 
Hitchcock moved to Hampton Bays and met wife, Carol, at the Boardy Barn. The two have been happily married for 47 years and have two children, Sean and Beth, and two grandchildren, Trevor and Leah. Hitchcock enjoys his present hobby of “treasure hunting” with a metal detector on the sands of Suffolk County beaches and parks. He is a member of the Long Island Treasure Hunters Club, whose members try to return found items of value to their owners. In addition, he is an active member of the American Legion in Hampton Bays, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5350, and a member of the Suffolk County Police Conference, the Disabled American Veterans and the 11th Armored Cavalry Association.