In April 1921, Hammond’s remains, along with those of another local soldier, Cpl. Joseph Tribble, were returned to the United States. Their journey home was monitored each step of the way by members of Hammond Post 3. Word came on April 8 that the bodies had arrived in New York City. The Friday, April 15 edition of the Kingsport Times reported they were expected to arrive in Kingsport on the 1 o’clock train Saturday, with military funerals and burials to take place on Sunday at the cemetery at Lovedale, now known as Oak Hill.
The following are excerpts from a front page story from the August 19 edition of the Times:
• “With what was perhaps the most impressive ceremony ever witnessed in the Magic City, the bodies of Sergeant Hagan Hammond and Corporal Joseph Tribble, young Kingsport soldiers who lost their lives in the World War, were laid to rest with military honors in the cemetery here Sunday afternoon. In spite of the unpleasant weather the double military funeral was attended by a crowd variously estimated at from two to four thousand people. Several hundred of these were ex-soldiers, but only the guard of honor, consisting of 100 men, was in uniform.”
• “Services over the body of Sergeant Hammond were conducted in the Baptist church by Rev. S.B. Ogle, while services for Corporal Tribble were held in the Broad Street Methodist church by Rev. Thomas Priddy. Following the services the bodies were brought simultaneously from the two churches, while the band played “Nearer My God to Thee,” and the firing squad, which had remained on the outside with the guard of honor, stood at “present arms.” Then, while the band played a funeral dirge, the cortege fell in line behind the hearse and followed in procession to the cemetery.”
• “As the gates to the cemetery were entered, an aeroplane, circling overhead, dropped two flower wreaths.”
• “While the two bodies were being lowered into their graves the band again played “Nearer My God to Thee,” while the big crowd stood with bowed and uncovered heads. At the completion of the hymn the firing squad, which had been divided so that four men stood at either grave, fired three volleys. Then the bugler, Walter Lowe, sounded ‘Taps,’ and the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Priddy.”
• The firing squad consisted of Davis, Burton, Smith, Sutton, Showalter, Van Hoy, McSpadden, and Summerall, and was commanded by C.P. Edwards Jr., commander of Hammond Post No. 3 of the American Legion. Pallbearers for Sergeant Hammond were W.M. Smith, Greer Caton, Carnot Bennett, H.A. Gholson, Bernie Hall and Ben Kinkead; those for Corporal Tribble were F.W. Browning, C.C. Miller, Bruce Hyatt, Tom Beaty, S.P. Platt and D.D. Williamson.”
According to the article published April 15 in advance of the funerals, rifles for the firing squad had to be secured from Johnson City. And the band mentioned above was the Kingsport Band. And if you’re wondering about that “Magic City” reference, that was Kingsport’s nickname before “the Model City” stuck.
Next week: We’re going to jump ahead to Legion Pool, the American Legion Carnival, and the Fourth of July Parade.
J.H. Osborne covers Sullivan County government for the Times News. Email him at [email protected]