Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps Veteran John Hawkins Napier III. John served during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

John trained with the 2nd Marine Division as a runner. He would deliver messages between units when radios and field towers were down in Saipan. It was one of the most dangerous jobs at the time.

When John heard that Pearl Harbor was attacked, he enlisted to serve overseas. In an interview John expressed pride in serving: “It was patriotism of course, after the attack on Pearl Harbor we all wanted to defeat the Japanese.” He served three years in the Marine Corps going to Guam, Saipan, and Japan. His unit was supposed to invade Japan before the atomic bomb was dropped, but instead he was one of the first to witness the bomb’s devastating impact. John recalled, “It was a horribly impressive sight…You couldn’t see their radiation burns because they were covered in sheets. The bombs took out the aircraft plants and the harbor and there was wreckage everywhere.”

John continued his career in the Army and the Air Force. He worked in special operations for the Air Force section of the NSA during the Korean War. At Maxwell Air Force Base during the Vietnam War, he helped with the Air Force counterinsurgency operations. John also served in the Pentagon as special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force and from 1971-1977 he was on staff at the Air War College and Air University as the unconventional warfare expert and historian, respectively. He joined the State Defense Force, receiving the state rank of brigadier general for the Army and deputy commander.

His decorations include Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force and Army Commendation Medals, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and he wore the Parachutist Badge.

John passed away Dec. 27, 2016 and leaves behind his wife, Cameron, of 52 years. He was laid to rest at the Old Oakwood Cemetery with full military honors.

We honor your service, John.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Share this story

Published on Jun. 10, 2017

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 112

More Stories

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps and Army Veteran Dominic J. Hall, who served in Japan and in Afghanistan.

  • John Thurman served in the Marine Corps during World War II, fought on Iwo Jima and saw the famous flag raising on Mount Suribachi.

  • Edward Carter Jr. was one of the few African Americans to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II.