Erwin Ware Hambright
T/5 in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co C
Born 1913 in SC, Died 1966
County of residence at enlistment: New York County, NY
Other residence(s): New York, NY
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: semiskilled occupations in manufacture of textiles
College education before the war: Presbyterian College (SC) 1 year
Erwin Hambright was born on June 13, 1913 in Cherokee County, SC, near the NC border. He was the third of six children; his father was a prominent farmer in the county, a former postmaster, a deacon in the Presbyterian church, and an influential member of the so-called "Hambright Faction" of the Republican Party. Erwin's 3X great-grandfather, Col. Frederick Hambright, was a German-born settler who commanded American troops at the Revolutionary War battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. (He moved from North Carolina to South Carolina after that battle, settling near Kings’ Creek in 1782, and acquiring a large estate there.) Erwin's family farm was in Cherokee County, SC but their street address was in Grover, NC.
Erwin was baptized at Shiloh Presbyterian Church (where Col. Hambright was buried) in Grover in 1914. He graduated from high school and then spent a year studying at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC, where he was active in an on-campus military unit. His father died when he was 18, which may have contributed to his leaving college early.
Sometime between 1935 and 1940 he moved to New York City. In 1940 he was working as a textile designer at Neisler Mills in Tribeca, New York City; since this was a Kings Mountain business (close to the family's church in Grover and their farmstead in neighboring South Carolina) it is likely that he made the connection locally, and may have worked for them in North Carolina before heading to New York City. It appears that the New York City office was largely a sales agency, selling drapery and upholstery fabric to entities such as Radio City Music Hall. (Neisler Mills wove the initial gold satin scalloped curtain for the theatre in 1932.)
Erwin married Elizabeth Friedrichs in 1939, registered for the draft on October 16, 1940, and enlisted on September 20, 1942. He served in the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion and saw service overseas with the unit. Four of his five siblings also served in World War II—one brother in the Army in the Philippines, one a Marine in the South Pacific, one brother stationed in Texas, and his sister as an Army nurse.
He was discharged from the Army with the rank of T/5 and returned to New York. Little else is known about his life and work. At some point he married a woman named Anne Richter, who appears to have been the mother of his two sons: Erwin and Peter. But his first wife Elizabeth was the applicant for his military gravestone, so the relationships are unclear.
He died on June 2, 1966 in Brooklyn, NY and is buried at Grover Cemetery in Grover, NC.
1932 yearbook freshman photo (see below)
1914 Baptismal record
1931 father's obituary in the The Gaffney Ledger (SC)
1932 Presbyterian College yearbook (military activity)
1932 Presbyterian College yearbook (photo)
1939 marriage record (Elizabeth)
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1945 article in the Gaffney Ledger (SC) re his military service (confirms 603rd)
1966 death notice in the Charlotte Observer (NC)
1966 Social Security applications and claims index
1966 US headstone application for military veterans (NOTE: This application lists him in a different unit—not the Ghost Army—but the 1945 newspaper article above says he served in a camouflage unit in Germany)
2017 wife Anne's obituary