On 23 August 1948, Headquarters, European Command issued General Order Number 78, renaming eight installations in the Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, and Mannheim regions in honor of soldiers who had been killed or mortally wounded while performing acts of heroism in the area, and for which they later received decorations for valor. Remarkably, all but one of those men were soldiers of the 100th Infantry Division.
One of these Centurymen was Private First Class Robert M. Hammonds. Hammonds, a 19-year old native of Wickliffe, Kentucky, was a wireman with Company G, 397th Infantry Regiment. On 11 April 1945, near Heilbronn, PFC Hammonds courageously volunteered and unhesitatingly exposed himself to hostile fire to complete installation of a wire line. He had just completed his task when he was mortally wounded by a sniper's bullet. For this act of valor, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.
Major General Withers A. Burress, Commanding General of the 100th Infantry Division, sent a letter to PFC Hammond's mother expressing his sympathies for her loss. In his letter, General Burress promised Mrs. Hammonds that her son's "devotion to duty and his courage will not be forgotten, and will serve to inspire us to better efforts."
One of the eight installations, Loretto Kaserne in Seckenheim, Germany, was officially renamed and dedicated as Hammonds Barracks in honor of PFC Hammonds in 1948.
H. P. Perrine, Commanding Officer of the Headquarters of the Military Post in Heidelberg sent Mrs. Hammonds a letter of the dedication honoring her son and his sacrifice.
Aside from the official action authorized by General Order Number 78, however, until recently there was no record of any other formal dedication of Hammonds Barracks. There was no historical marker or any other type of visible official record at the installation to reflect after whom it is named and why. To provide an appropriate and permanent tribute to PFC Hammonds, Hammonds Barracks was rededicated at a ceremony which unveiled a bronze plaque mounted on a pedestal adjacent to the flagpoles and parade field, explaining the actions of PFC Hammonds.
Members of PFC Hammonds' family traveled from the United States to attend the ceremony. World War II-era veterans of PFC Hammonds' unit, the 100th Infantry Division, also attended. Amid appropriate pomp and ceremony, Hammonds Barracks was re-dedicated in a ceremony held 22 June 2000. Lieutenant General Larry Jordan, Deputy Commanding General of the US Army, Europe (USAREUR) and Seventh Army officiated.
Representing the 100th Infantry Division Association at the ceremony were Rev. Bill Glazier, who gave the invocation and benediction, and Dr. W. Dirk Warren, who gave the remarks on behalf of the Association.
After 52 years, Private First Class Robert Hammonds' valor is celebrated on a permanent plaque near the barracks long named in his honor. General Burress' promise to Mrs. Hammonds has finally been completely fulfilled. Now and in the future, American soldiers who live in or work near these former enemy barracks will become aware of-and draw inspiration from-the selflessness and sacrifice displayed by this Centuryman on 11 April 1945.