In Memoriam: Neil R. Underwood

Memorial Street Signs


In observance of every Memorial Day, Hampton Veterans of Foreign Wars gave the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country, in WORLD WAR II, KOREA and VIETNAM and streets, bridges, parks & playgrounds in Hampton, were named in their honor.

Neil R. Underwood
Lt. Neil R. Underwood

The Underwood Memorial Bridge
"The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge"
shortly after dedication December 1949

[The following excerpt is from the Memorial Day Ceremony given at the
Hampton Academy Jr. High School on May 29, 1998,
produced and directed by Sheila Nudd, Music Director.]

7. NEIL R. Underwood, offered by Alison Leverone:

Neil R. Underwood was not a typical young man for that time. He was raised by his aunt, Kate Harrington, at Hampton Beach. He loved hunting, fishing, and driving around town in his convertible looking at girls. He was known around Hampton as a fun-loving young man. He was not a particularly good student at Hampton Academy and he transferred to Whitcomb High School in Bethel, Vermont.

Neil joined the Army Air Corps and became part of a flight crew that trained in Kansas, Kentucky, and California. Even though he was killed in friendly fire he was still a hero.

Lt. Neil R. Underwood, 1918-1944, of Hampton, N.H. was a pilot in the United States Army Air Corps. He was shot down in a flight over Corsica, France on August 17, 1944. His death was caused by a communication error by the ground crew. When the plane was found, his body was missing and never recovered. Investigators thought that he survived the crash and was captured by the enemy and later killed.

Neil Underwood died when his daughter Deborah Lynn was two days old. His medal was presented to her in the home of the Lieutenant's widow, Mrs. Phyllis Underwood.

After the war, five bridges were dedicated to our war dead. The bridges were dedicated Wednesday, in an Armistice Day Ceremony, conducted by the Hamptons Post #35 American Legion. The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge is a memorial bridge over Hampton River. Lt. Underwood served as a lifeguard on Hampton Beach and was a dedicated American.

Hampton Union, September

Hampton Union, April 9, 1953
Governor Hugh Gregg signing the bill officially naming the toll bridge spanning the Hampton river, "The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge". Shown with the Governor are left to right: Neil Underwood, the World War II veteran's nephew and namesake, and Mrs. Mae LaBonte, mother of Lt. Underwood. Governor Gregg presented to each, the pens with which he signed the bill.

Hampton Union, November 11, 1953
FIVE BRIDGES were dedicated Wednesday in Armistice Day rights conducted by the Hamptons Post 35. Shown above is the dedication of the Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge over Hampton Harbor. Four other bridges were also dedicated: "Robert G. Lord Memorial Bridge", Kensington Road, Hampton Falls; "Lincoln H. Akerman Memorial Bridge", Exeter Road, Hampton Falls; "Pacific Memorial Bridge", Towle Farm Road, Hampton; and "Atlantic Memorial Bridge", Exeter Road, Hampton.

Hampton Union, April 2, 1953
By virtue of legislation approved last Thursday by the General Court, the Hampton Toll Bridge will be known as the Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge in honor the Hampton Air Force Lieutenant who lost his life in the Mediterranean theatre on August 17, 1944
A brother of former Rep. Ernest R. Underwood also of Hampton, Lt. Underwood was the only member of the armed forces of World War II to give his life who was born at Hampton and had resided there all his life with his aunt, Mrs. Katie Harrington, founder and owner of the Lawrence House one of the oldest hotels on the beach.

Memorial Bridge photos courtesy John Hirtle

Production Manager & Ad Designer

Atlantic News, April 2001

The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge
The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge sign, 2000.
The new NEIL R. UNDERWOOD MEMORIAL BRIDGE sign was constructed at the Hampton Public Works Department by Johnny O'Brien in 2000 and was installed on the Hampton side of the river as a lasting tribute to the memory of Lt. Underwood who gave the supreme sacrifice for his country.

The original bridge plaque on building
The original bridge plaque on Harbormaster's building, 1949.

The Harbormaster's bridge building.

[See also, Hampton "Mile-Long" Wooden Bridge / The Neil R. Underwood Memorial Bridge
By John M. Holman, Hampton History Volunteer, Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, NH]