We are fortunate to have in our community a few unique veterans who have a deep understanding of the history of our nation and the sacrifices necessary to preserve our freedoms. Perhaps the most visible and most active is Sergeant Major/Captain Ron Hill. Ron’s unique perspective comes from participation in three wars and the understanding that can only come from operating at the highest levels at the Pentagon.
For a decorated soldier with Ron’s distinguished career the details of his service would fill volumes. We have only given the highlights of his service here, but even the highlights reveal the depth of his service, dedication, and patriotism.
Ron joined the Army at only eighteen and at once became a part of the 9th Field Artillery Battery of the 3rd Infantry Division in Korea. His service there included the defense of key positions at Outpost Harry sector in the “Iron Triangle” during repeated attacks by the Chinese Army. It was a period of attacks, repeated counterattacks, hand-to-hand combat, and unprecedented artillery action. Ron distinguished himself repeatedly and was promoted to Sergeant First Class at the age of only nineteen and assigned as Battalion Sergeant Major. In 1965 he was and is still the youngest soldier to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major in the modern history of the Army.
In 1967 Ron received a direct commission as a Second Lieutenant and a brief time later promoted to Captain when he volunteered for service in Vietnam. Upon his arrival in Vietnam. He was immediately assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam. He was interviewed and selected by General Abrams commander of all U.S. Forces in Vietnam. He was assigned the task of filling a position usually reserved for Colonels, reporting directly to General Abrams. His duties arose from Senate hearings on alleged improprieties and profiteering in the operation of servicemen’s clubs. In this capacity Ron cleaned up the operation of entertainment shows involving some 3,400 individuals. His role was further complicated by dealing with twenty-six different nationalities contracted to provide entertainment at military service clubs for the US Military, Contractors in Vietnam, and all USO Shows in Vietnam. His organizational skills and ability to produce results were already recognized by his peers and field commanders, and his results-oriented focus would be a hallmark of his service and post-Vietnam service.
Ron retired for the first time in late 1973 and had a successful business career before being called back to duty as a Captain in 1991 as a part of the Desert Storm mobilization. He was commissioned as a Captain and stationed at Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Washington.
The family of our service men and women are often as important as those who serve. Throughout Ron’s career he has had the support of a wonderful family. His wife Shirley, daughter Rebecca Hill Zuercher, and sons Ronald Guy Hill, Jr., and William Felix Hill have provided significant support for all his efforts on behalf of our Nation.
Veterans who fought in Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars are extremely rare and have a perspective on wars, politics, and life we all need to respect. Our latest census attempts to list veterans who fought in multiple wars, but Ron’s service escapes this analysis revealing just how rare his commitment and dedication are to our nation. Only 81,000 living service men and women fought in both Korea and Vietnam. The number whose career spanned Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars would be even more rare.
Today Ron enriches our community through his actions and leadership, much as he did during his Army career. Sergeants Major are known for their ability to remove obstacles and never confusing activity with results. He has sponsored numerous veterans’ organizations, historical societies, helped build monuments and parks, and been a vocal supporter in the local news. Ron also is involved with youth in the area, reinforcing our founding principles, our Constitution, and ROTC. Like a good Sergeant Major, he still knows how to pass out assignments and check on progress. His ability to gather community, political, and monetary support for veterans’ causes is legendary in our region.
In 2022 Ron was recognized for a lifetime of dedication and service by the Society of the Third Infantry Division when he was awarded their Audie Murphy Achievement Award. In the award ceremony Ron’s achievements were described by National President Toby Knight: “(Ron) not only served his country with great distinction during his military career, but also has continued to serve his country and community in an unparalleled manner as a civilian. Sergeant Major/Captain Ronald G. Hill epitomizes the U.S. Army values of service to others over oneself. Ron Hill’s lifelong service to his country and to others has brought great credit to him, the U.S. Army and the various organizations to which he belongs. His many contributions to the communities in which he has lived brings the utmost credit to him, and brings great distinction the Third Infantry Division Society.”
Shown here are the medals Ron earned during his distinguished career. They include:
- Legion of Merit
- Bronze Star Medal
- Joint Service Commendation Medal
- Army Commendation Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
- Army Achievement Medal
- Good Conduct Medal 7 award clasp
- National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
- NCO Professional Development Medal
- Army Service Ribbon Medal
- Korean War Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
- Korean Defense Service Medal
- Vietnam Service Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
- Southeast Asia Service Medal
- Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/Ten Year Device
- Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 3
- United Nations Service Medal
- Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal First Class
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal w/Device 60
- Bravery Gold Medal of Greece
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
- Meritorious Unit Citation
- Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/palm
- Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal and Proclamation
- Army General Staff Badge
- Expert Rifleman
- Combat Artillery Badge
It was estimated in the 2020 census that there are 18 million United States veterans alive today. Our most vulnerable are our World War II veterans with a mere 162,000 of the 17 million who fought still here to convey their knowledge. But our Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War veterans have much to share about their experiences and many continue to enrich the communities where they live. We encourage you to seek them out and to gain from them the knowledge they have to share.