Answering A Call To Service
By Liz Premo
Thursday, May 31, 2001
HAMPTON — A part of Hampton Academy history came poignantly alive during last Friday’s Memorial Day ceremony, when almost a dozen students and one teacher read brief biographies of 11 of the school’s alumni who gave their lives while in service to their country. The stories evoked plenty of memories, some laughter, and some tears, and all of them reminded those who were present that these very same people made an impact on their community both before and after they gave “the supreme sacrifice.”
Those assembled in the Eastman Gym at HAJH heard how faithful serviceman Lincoln Akerman — who was born in 1916 and for who the Hampton Falls school is named -— was actually “a typical student who disliked school very much.” He lost his life serving the United States in the Philippines.
Richard Raymond, who “died fighting for his country,” was pictured on the screen with his German bride Maria. Roland Gray, who “was the first in his class (‘38) to go to war,” died in action in Belgium the day before Christmas in 1944. Edward Tobey, a sports enthusiast who wrote for his school newspaper, was one of the first to fly a secret radar-equipped B-29. He died on his seventh bombing mission when his plane crashed in the South Pacific on May 20, 1945.
Harry Parr, a civil engineer with the Army Corps of Engineers, first saw active duty beginning January 9, 1944, but died at the Battle of the Bulge when his Jeep hit a land mine. He had never seen his son, born two days after he answered the call to service. Neil Underwood (for whom the bridge that connects Hampton and Seabrook beaches is named) was “a fun- loving young man” who enjoyed girl-watching while cruising the beach in his convertible. A pilot in the Army Air Corps, Underwood lost his life as a result of friendly fire on August 17, 1944.
Norman Dearborn, the 10th Hampton man to die in action and the seventh from Hampton Academy, “died after serving his country and should be remembered for his bravery.” Prior to leaving Hampton for active duty, Robert Gordon Lord had arranged for his mother to receive a dozen roses when Mother’s Day arrived. The roses came that Sunday morning; later that day, came word that Lord was presumed dead following a plane crash, in a case of what the US government felt may have been sabotage.
Two of the most touching biographies were about Richard Blake and Robert White. The two friends saw intense action overseas during World War II. When Blake was killed in action after getting shot down by German gunfire on February 20, 1945, White wrote to the Blake family, offering comforting words from Bible. “Many are called but few are chosen,” he wrote. “I truly believe Richard was one of the chosen.” White also believed that “even in the hell of war, God is with us,” and he told the Blake family, “We’ll meet again someday.” His prophetic words were fulfilled several months later, when he died in action on July 1, 1945.
Remembrances of Desiree Loy were offered by Sheila Nudd, who first met Loy as a sixth grader in 1970, the year Nudd started teaching at HAJH. Musically gifted, Desiree was voted most talented and most talkative while at HAJH. “She deserved both,” Nudd said, adding “Desiree wanted to fly.” She joined the Air National Guard Reserves, but lost her life in 1985 when her plane crashed. “Seven families lost loved ones” in the tragic event, said Nudd. “I lost a friend.” Nudd closed by saying, “Godspeed to you, Desiree, dear student, dear young friend.”