With Memorial Day approaching, the State Senate honored an Oklahoma World War II veteran today at the Capitol with a resolution recognizing his years of service and sacrifice in the United State Air Force.
Senate Resolution 50, authored by Sen. Earl Garrison, was heard before the Senate this afternoon and recognized the outstanding war record and distinguished military career of Muskogee resident, Colonel Albert Eldon Hill who served his country for 41 years.
"I authored this resolution for the simple fact that there were thousands of brave men like Col. Hill who sacrificed for our country and I don't believe that they have received the proper recognition and honor that they deserve," said Garrison, D-Muskogee. "This man gave nearly half his life to the service. I don't think there is any way we can ever repay or thank him enough for that. All we can do is show our utmost appreciation in whatever ways possible and I hope this resolution relays those sentiments even if in a small way."
Albert Eldon Hill was born on September 11, 1921 in Lockney, Texas. He was an honor graduate of two West Texas schools, Lockney High School and Texas Tech University. He enlisted into what would become the United States Air Force on August 6, 1940, as a weather forecaster. Hill was promoted to Corporal and then Sergeant before being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and assigned as a Bombardier-Navigator.
Hill was lead bombardier in a B-26 for 44 of 79 missions over Europe during World War II. On one of his missions, Hill was joined by radio reporter Edward R. Murrow who later commented on the air on the competence and courage of the then Captain Hill.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Hill was Lead Bombardier of an 18-plane formation of B-26s, the last group to bomb behind Utah Beach just before the first assault troops hit the coast of Normandy. He was promoted to the rank of Major at the very young age of 22 at this same time. He also served as the lead bombardier on the first combat mission of the Douglas A-26 in the European Theater of Operations on September 6, 1944. The formation consisted of two flights of seven planes each and the target was a German Coastal Battery near Brest, France.
Col. Hill retired from the U.S. Air Force on September 11, 1981. While serving in the military, Hill received several decorations including the Presidential Unit Citation, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 13 Oak Leaf Clusters as well as the Purple Heart with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the European Campaign Medal and three Battle Stars, the American Defense Service Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
During his years of service, Hill kept and maintained a war diary. His granddaughter Emily Hedges wrote a script for a historical video documentary based on the diary and Col. Hill's recollections. Hill's daughter and son-in-law David and Sue Hoffman then used that script to produce a documentary entitled, "From Widow-Maker to Unsung Hero," which tells the story of the B-26 Marauder and the men who flew it in the European theater during WWII. The documentary won a 2002 National Silver Telly Award, which honors creativity in non-network commercials as well as film and video documentaries.
"I wanted to recognize one of our own unsung heroes," continued Garrison. "But I also wanted to commend Col. Hill for keeping his war diary and allowing it to be made into a documentary so that we could all have a glimpse into the lives of WWII soldiers and the truly incredible sacrifice that they made for America and the world."
After the resolution was heard, a reception was held in the Senate Lounge in Col. Hill's honor.