Of Milwaukee – Milton Holmes Hamilton, 98, died peacefully on February 9, 2024, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A devoted father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, he led a life that embodied the West Point motto of Duty, Honor, Country.
Milton was born in Elkins, West Virginia in 1925. In 1946 he graduated from the United States Military Academy, where he played shooting guard on the varsity basketball team. In 1948 he married Martha Towler, who joined him at his posting in Salzburg, Austria. This was the first of more than 25 moves they made during his long career in and around the Army.
Milton retired as a Colonel in 1972. The Congressional Record noted that in the Army he “served in a wide variety of command and general staff positions, to include brigade commander, comptroller, program/budget manager, researcher in personnel management, service school instructor, and politico-military policy formulator at the national level. He served in combat with the 3d Infantry Division in Korea, and the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam.”
The scope of Milton’s responsibilities was reflected in his graduate degrees. He earned a MBA from Syracuse University, a MS in International Affairs from George Washington University, and did coursework for a PhD in Business Administration from American University.
In 1975 he returned to government service in the Department of Defense, where he was the principal advisor on US political and military relations with countries in southern and western Africa.
In 1980 he became the Administrative Assistant for the Secretary of the Army, a post he held for 15 years. This was his favorite job. As the senior, non-political civilian in the Army, he played many roles. The Army has responsibility for running the physical plant of the Pentagon, so Milton was in effect the manager of a 20,000-person city. As the AA, he helped reform Special Operations units in the Army and contributed to formulation of the Goldwater-Nichols Act (which reformed US military command structures). In this position he supported the Army’s work through the end of the Cold War and the first Gulf War. He served under Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton, and retired in 1995.
In 1998 he and Martha moved to Durham, NC, where they enjoyed being part of the Duke University community. Martha became a docent at the Nasher Museum of Art, and Milton became a Duke supporter. Throughout retirement, Milton was an avid sports fan, rooting for local teams like the Milwaukee Brewers and Marquette Golden Eagles, the Washington Commanders, and he particularly enjoyed cheering on teams led by another West Point grad and former basketball guard, Coach K, at Duke University.
In 2014 Milton and Martha moved to Milwaukee to be close to their daughter, Mary Sprague. Martha died in 2020 and is dearly missed.
Milton Hamilton is survived by his daughter Mary Sprague (Charles Sprague, d. 2014), son Moe Hamilton and his wife Courtenay, son Jay Hamilton and his wife Nancy, seven grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. A private service for the family will be graveside at a future date at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C. In lieu of flowers and in honor of his devotion to America, please vote.