Bound for the battlefield in Korea, Calvin Hamblen, a then 19-year-old U.S. Marine, shipped out on his birthday 66 years ago next month from San Diego, Calif.

The Gorham farm boy served in artillery with the 1st Marine Division, which is nicknamed the “The Old Breed,” according to the U.S. Marine Corps website.

“They went right into action on the first day,” his son, Charlie Hamblen, said this week about when his father’s unit landed in Korea.

A survivor of a year-long combat tour in Korea that began in 1950, Hamblen, 84, died quietly May 15, 2016, in Gorham, his hometown.

When Gorham’s Memorial Day parade Monday pauses on South Street, Hamblen’s name will be front and center in the memories of many townspeople as two Gorham schoolchildren march up to the veteran memorial in Phinney Park to place wreaths.

Hamblen was born June 18, 1931, in Gorham.

“He was never afraid of doing his share,” Erlon Mosher of Gorham, a longtime friend and fellow veteran, said this week.

War-time contemporaries of Hamblen are vanishing. Jim Fisher, executive director of the Korean War Veterans Association in Charleston, Ill., said in an email this week that Korean War veterans are dying at the rate of 150 daily and the average age is now 86.

“They’re going fast,” said Jim Hughes of Gorham, a Marine Corps veteran who also served in Korea.

Following his military service, Hamblen continued his education at Northeastern University and earned his certified public accountant designation. Hamblen  was a farmer, former legislator and Town Council member. A widely known political figure, his obituary said he was elected to five terms on the Gorham Town Council. Gorham Town Manager David Cole said Hamblen served several years as the board’s chairman. He was elected to the 106th Maine Legislature in 1972.

“He was a man of few words,” remembered Norm Justice, who had served with Hamblen on the town board. “When Calvin spoke, you listened.”

Hamblen was known for his silence.  “When he spoke everyone took notice,” Town Council Chairman Matt Robinson said.

Mosher, who also served with Hamblen on the Town Council, recalled that they were members of the Gorham Farmers Club and had worked together on committees.

“You could rely on him, you could take his word,” Mosher said.

Hamblen was educated in Gorham schools, including the old Frederick Robie School in Little Falls. Charles Hamblen said his father enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hamblen was always a Marine to the close of his life and enjoyed the camaraderie of other local Marines whom met with regularly until the last couple months.

“He lunched with us at Marine lunches at the Egg and I,” Hughes recalled. “A real nice guy.”

According to military rolls a librarian at Baxter Memorial Library found posted online, Hamblen had risen from private first class in 1951 to sergeant in 1953.

Hamblen, a descendent of  a Gorham founding family, was born on the Hamblen farm, which has been in the family since 1783, and that’s where he died.  His obituary said he died from complications of Parkinson’s disease.

“He raised Hereford cattle, chickens, and cared for a colony of barn cats,” his obituary said.

The farm is one of only three in Cumberland County owned for more than 200 years in the same family. According to the obituary, the farm was named a National Bicentennial Farm while under his care.

Gorham’s parade Monday will end at Eastern Cemetery on Main Street for the town’s annual ceremony.  Betty Rines will play taps and Gorham’s VFW Post 10879 will fire a rifle salute that will represent for many citizens final goodbyes to Hamblen.

A memorial service for Hamblen is set for 4 p.m. on Monday, June 6,, following visitation at 3 p.m. at the Hamblen Farm, 26 Hamblen Road, in Gorham.

Gorham’s Memorial Day parade Monday will pause here to place wreaths at the town’s memorial honoring veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnan

Calvin Hamblen


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