Hamilton Gregory of Asheville died on June 9, 2018 at Mission Memorial Hospital. He was 74 years old.
He is survived by daughter Jessamyn Gregory of Edneyville, son James Gregory of Youngsville, Louisiana, daughter June Gregory of Asheville, and grandchildren Brooke, Gracie, Blake, Demi, Kristin, Makayla, Bailey, and Ty. He was predeceased by Merrell Gregory, his beloved wife of 44 years.
He was the author of a bestselling college textbook, Public Speaking for College & Career, which has been used by over two million students in the U.S. and Canada. A Chinese-language edition was sold in mainland China.
He also wrote an Amazon.com bestseller, McNamara’s Folly: The Use of Low-IQ Troops in the Vietnam War, which was highly acclaimed by leading veterans for its exposé of Project 100,000, a program that sent mentally limited men into combat in Vietnam. Anthony Zinni, a four-star general in the U.S. Marine Corps, wrote, “Hamilton Gregory has written a superb account of the debacle that was Project 100,000. This book should be read by every one of our political leaders who need to understand the effects of stupid decisions made by those who do not understand the nature of war.”
Gregory got to know dozens of “McNamara’s Morons” (as they were cruelly called) while training at Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1967. He was outraged that such men were inducted and sent into combat, with a predictably high rate of death and disability. He vowed that he would someday tell their story – a vow that he fulfilled by writing his book and by appearing in a YouTube video entitled “McNamara’s Folly.”
Gregory served in Vietnam as a U.S. Army intelligence agent in 1968-69. Using a false name and posing as a civilian journalist, he worked on a team that recruited and trained Frenchmen and Southeast Asians for espionage missions in Cambodia. He narrowly escaped being killed in a terrorist attack, causing him to view each day afterward as a “bonus day” – a gift from God.
He was a life member of three organizations -- Vietnam Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, and Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
He wrote articles about Vietnam that appeared in the New York Times, Military History magazine, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vietnam magazine, VVA Veteran, and Huffington Post. An essay was included in War and Moral Injury: A Reader, an anthology published by Cascade Books
He taught English and public speaking at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College for 33 years. In 1988, he was named Instructor of the Year at A-B Tech.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to A-B Tech (Scholarship Fund), 340 Victoria Rd., Asheville 28801.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, July 6, 2018 at 2:00 pm at the Grace Episcopal Church on Merrimon Avenue.