PROFILE OF A MUSEUM VOLUNTEER
ARTHUR J. HILL
Arthur Hill, at age 27, volunteered for the Army Engineers shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Due of Art’s construction background, he was sent to Camp Claiborne, Louisiana in early 1942, to a Special Service Engineer Regiment. On December 23, 1942 Art graduated from O.C.S. and the Heavy Equipment School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as a Second Lieutenant. At Camp Swift, Texas he was assigned to the 146 Engineer (C) Battalion as the Headquarters Company Commander with the additional duty of Battalion Motor Officer. He held this command, as
Captain, with various additional duties until the war's end. While he was stationed at England's North Coastal area of Saunton Sands, the battalion helped build and operate an assault training center of enemy fortifications, duplicated from secret aerial reconnaissance photos of the French landing beaches and Siegfried Line defenses. This consummated in the spearheading of the Omaha Beach “D Day” landings at the “H” hour plus 3 minutes across the English Channel on the 6th of June, 1944. The five European campaigns; Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, ArdennesAlsace and Central Europe followed.
Following the German Collapse, the 146th (C) Engineers, and other Engineer groups of V Corps, were assisting with the debris clearance and restoration of utilities of battered Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. In Pilsen, Art was named director of the XXII Corps Heavy Equipment School for approximately 65 Czech civil engineers and equipment operators from the V, VII and XXII Corps.
While the U.S. was still at war with Japan, some men were thinking of home. Others with fewer points, were thinking of their possible transfer to the other side of the world. Art lacked one point of the amount required for discharge, and was slated as Base Commander at one of several embarkation centers for upgrading facilities for pending troop movements. He was at the Biarritz American University (Engineer school) in Southern France making preparations when he learned he had received a Foreign Award, the Czech Military Medal. Now with enough points for discharge, the several jumps in grade no longer enticed him. He returned to Czechoslovakia to say good-bye once again to his fellow officers and troops.
Upon returning home after his January 8, 1946 discharge, Art had a career in the petroleum industry for over 30 years. During his semi-retirement years of 1975 – 1979, he served as the nine (9) western states representative on the Shell Oil Company National Jobber Council. He retired in 1980 as president of Hill Oil Company.
Art and his wife B.J. (now deceased) were married over 50 years. Their son Brad is Superior Court Justice for the Fifth District Court of Appeals State of California, and a lifetime honorary member of the Legion of Valor.
Art was very proud of being a member of American Legion Post 4, which played a major role in persuading the Fresno City Council to make the Memorial Auditorium available to all veterans organizations, and enabling the existence of the National Legion of Valor Museum which was dedicated November 11, 1992. Art served as Post 4 Commander during 1995-96.
Since April 1992, Art spent his time volunteering at the Museum. He is also a lifetime honorary member of the Legion of Valor, and became the Museum’s CEO/Director in July 2001. Art suffered a devastating fall on his way to work in July, 2011, ending his ability to continue his six day a week work schedule. The day to day operations of the museum were turned over to Deputy Director Bob Specht, who was elected CEO/Director in April, 2012, while Art continues as Director Emeritus.