John Richard Hall, Jr.

NO. 17585  •  18 July 1927 – 7 September 1955

Died September 7, 1955 in an Aircraft Accident at Stewart Air Force Base, New York, aged 28 Years.


JOHN HALL, the elder of two children of John and Lucille (Cary) Hull, was born July 18, 1927, in South Bend, Indiana.

Between 1927 and 1930 he lived in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Davenport, Iowa. In 1934 his parents moved to Muscatine, Iowa where he lived until entering the service in 1945.

Perhaps no better theme for John's life can be found than the phrase of his classmates in the Howitzer: "One did not have to know him very long to realize that he was a truly remarkable individual." The qualities of "efficiency", "quick thinking", sincere purpose" and "sense of humor" which fill our memories of this friend are characteristic of John's whole life.

John determined the fine line between enthuslasin und zealotry. He was actively interested in many fields, both intellectual and athletic. In these pursuits, as in his leadership of men, he gained respect and affection by his example.

He was an insatiable reader, and his room in his Muscatine home was lined with books. He created a local sensation when, as a child, he exhausted the resources of the Muscatine Children's Library.

During his early school years John was an outstanding athlete, excelling particularly in basketball. He continued his athletics at the Academy, winning a major "A" in track. He was not a great runner, and at times it appeared that he might not make the team. But then, as a roommate has written, "his tenacity of purpose and determination won the victory." The continuing influence of athletics was revealed just the day before his death, when John happily told his wife that he had at last beaten George VIisides in a tennis match.

Another trait of long standing was a quiet efficiency. His sister gives an example of one of John's earliest attempts at organization, "He ran his paper route so effectlvely that he didn't have to go collecting. He had his customers put their money in a certain place, and would collect it as he delivered the Sunday papers." As a Captain of Infantry, John still had this knack for simple organization and administration which he had first showed as a paper boy.

John was a Roman Catholic. He received his primary and secondary education at St. Mathias School, in Muscatine, where he graduated with the Class of 1945. The tender respect and love with which his former teachers honored his mortal remains was a fitting testimony to the impression which he had made. One of his teachers later wrote, "His faith was deep, and his character strong, even as a child." His steadfast holding to religion, demonstrated by his service as an acolyte, even to the time of his death, reflected the deep impress of his early training.

The life of a soldier had an early appeal to John. His sister writes that his three young nephews now play with the lead soldiers, "red and blue," which John had cast and painted. He also felt the lure of flying. As an eighth grader he entered a kite contest. His kite was huge, and covered with red cellophane with a tissue paper fringe, It won first prize for performance, and also for beauty. John's last flight was an attempt to further explore the mystery and exhilaration of flying: A first ride in a jet, which he anticipated with the same joy and enthusiasm that had gone into building his prize?winning kite.

In November 1953, John married Betty Jo Gregg at Fort Benning. This happy wedding, attended by a great party of classmates, was a fitting climax to a courtship which had started while John was serving in his first station at Puerto Rico. The excitement of the courtship never died, and John's two years of marriage were busy and happy ones. He never forgot the "little things which mean so much."

What tribute can we pay to this man? In the lives of his wife, his family and his friends, there is a gap which can never be refilled. But he has left part of himself with us. His fine abilities, his faith in others, and his personal example have left their mark on all who knew him. May we remember his example, and fill ouir lives with the joy and purpose which characterized his own.