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General Archelaus L. Hamblen Jr., 86; Veteran of Three Wars
By Louie Estrada
Courtesy of Washington Post
Saturday, November 5, 2005
Archelaus L. Hamblen Jr., 86, a retired Army Brigadier General who fought in three wars and served as a liaison officer to the White House, died October 27, 2005, at his home in Falls Church, Virginia, of complications after a stroke.
General Hamblen first saw combat in World War II as a company commander with the "Blood and Fire" 63rd Infantry Division. He was seriously wounded when his unit breached the Siegfried line defenses in Germany.
After recuperating in France, he returned to postwar Germany to establish literacy programs for U.S. troops at the universities of Heidelberg and Frankfurt.
General Hamblen, a 1943 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, went on to serve during the Korean War as commander of the 1st battalions of the 17th and 31st Infantry regiments. He was also given the enviable task of escorting Marilyn Monroe to a performance for the troops.
After receiving a master's degree in international affairs from George Washington University in 1963 and returning to West Point as commanding officer of the 2nd Regiment, U.S. Corps of Cadets, he volunteered for service in the Vietnam War. He served first in the Saigon "War Room" and then became a deputy senior adviser to and commander of I Corp Advisory Group in DaNang.
He was an adviser to five Vietnam corps commanders, seeking to allay civil unrest in the country's northernmost military zone. His family said that exposure at that time to Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide used to defoliate jungles concealing enemy forces and supply bases, led to two brain tumors and his medical retirement in 1973.
Unable to work because of his disabilities, he began to devote more time to Falls Church Presbyterian Church, where he was a deacon and ruling elder. He volunteered with a program that helped with the settlement of South Vietnamese families in the Washington area and personally sponsored six families.
General Hamblen was born in San Diego, California. The son of a Brigadier General (Archelaus Lewis Hamblen), he grew up on numerous Army posts.
General Hamblen was something of a raconteur, and he often played the ukulele or piano for members of his staff.
He made parachute jumps on three continents and received a number of military decorations, including the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Legion of Merit with valor device, four awards of the Bronze Star, one with valor device, four awards of the Army Legion of Merit and two Purple Hearts.
His assignments included secretary of the general staff, 7th Army in Stuttgart, Germany; commander of the 1st Airborne Battle Group, 505th Infantry in Mainz, Germany; and assistant division commander of the 24th Infantry Mechanized Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.
In 1967, he returned to the Pentagon as the Army's liaison officer to the White House, where he developed a lasting friendship with President Lyndon B. Johnson. At the same time, General Hamblen served as the military's point of contact with retired Army Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.
General Hamblen met with Bradley once a month until his death in 1981. He then helped with Bradley's funeral arrangements and worked to establish the Omar N. Bradley Foundation at Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
A music lover, Gen. Hamblen played the piano every day until two weeks before his death.
His marriage to Mary K. Miller and Margery "Rundy" Hamblen ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 20 years, Diana Hudson Hamblen of Falls Church; six children from his second marriage, Katherine Carlone of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jill Jones of Fairfax, Jean Carnavos of Ellicott City, Archelaus L. Hamblen III of Vienna, Jeffrey Hamblen of Oakton and Stacy Hamblen of Vienna; two stepchildren, Lesley Beck of Fairfax and Tony Bennett of McLean; two sisters; 17 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.